Food

The Food and Drug Administration official who recently suggested that the wooden boards used to age cheese for centuries may be unsafe probably did not expect to start a cheese storm. But she did.

In a letter to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, FDA dairy safety chief Monica Metz wrote:

Laura Taylor https://flic.kr/p/4azUpY

More low-income Texas children have access to free and reduced price lunch over the summer than they did in 2012, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), based in Washington D.C.

FRAC says Texas added 297 "summer meal sites" across the state in 2013. Those are places at schools or non-profit organizations where children whose families make less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level can get reduced-price meals through the federal Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program. Children from families earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level get free meals.

In the last five years the number of olive trees in Texas has increased rapidly, but even with tremendous growth several farmers say it’s not enough to call it the next oil boom.

How hard can it be for school cafeterias to swap white bread for whole-grain tortillas, cut sodium, and nudge kids to put more fruit and vegetables on their trays?

Tougher than you might imagine, according to some schools.

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jon Shapley for KUT News

Customers lined up today for their last taste of tacos from Tamale House #3 on Airport Boulevard. Owner Robert "Bobby" Vasquez died last week, and the restaurant announced on Facebook it would close the location after 36 years. Tamale House East on East 6th St. will remain open.

"Everybody misses the place," said Connie Salazar, the long-time companion of Vasquez. "I'm going to miss him too."

flickr.com/sbogdanich

Baton Creole food truck owner Lynzy Moran has been cited twice by the City of Austin for trying to be more environmentally friendly.

Once it was for collecting grease to be recycled into biodiesel. Another time it was for trying to compost food waste. Now she drives the hot oil she uses to clean her fryers from her East Sixth Street location to a commissary for disposal.

"I'm literally having to travel with hot oil in my car every night, which is also very dangerous and pretty scary," Moran says. "[I've] definitely burned myself a few times."


Ilana Panich-Linsman, KUT News

Last month Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made a much-debated statement while answering questions on Reddit: He said Taco Cabana makes some of his favorite breakfast tacos.

Mando Rayo, a self-described “taco journalist” in a city that takes its breakfast tacos very seriously, decided to press the issue. On Tuesday, Rayo picked up breakfast tacos from one of his favorite Austin taco spots, Veracruz All Natural, and hand-delivered them to Mayor Leffingwell’s office. 

Laura Rice, KUT News

It’s becoming more common for kids at school to share a classroom – or a lunchroom – with a student with food allergies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 15 kids in the U.S. have food allergies – and those numbers appear to be on the rise.

The issue is a serious one because kids can become very sick or die from exposure to certain foods. But kids also may feel isolated or be bullied because of the precautions they have to take.

Some local schools and parents are taking a unique route towards promoting awareness and acceptance.

KUT News

These days restaurants are spending obscene amounts of money on limes. Think about what that means for Mexican food alone: limes are used in practically everything, from margaritas to ceviche to guacamole.

Last week, the rising price of limes became personal for this reporter.

I stopped by La Moreliana, a small eatery in southeast Austin that serves up authentic tacos. The food was great – but the tacos were missing the citrusy, acidic bite only lime juice can add. 

In an age when consumers want transparency in how their food is produced, meat producers are under the microscope.

And the meat industry is responding: Antibiotic-free chicken is showing up everywhere you look.

Ronnie Brooks

A new food trailer court is slated to open on Barton Springs Road in March, creating a new home for well-known mobile food vendors such as The Mighty Cone, Turf N Surf Po’Boy and Ms. P’s Electric Cock.

The Picnic, as it's to be named, will occupy one-third of a three acre site between Chuy's and Baby Acapulco where the Manor Mobile RV Park used to be. The other two thirds of the site is being developed as the Coldwater Luxury Apartments.

Unlike some food trailer courts that are located on undeveloped sites while landlords rent space to offset property tax until they can build something on the lot, the Picnic aims to be a long-term facility.

If you've ever shopped at Whole Foods, you've probably noticed that some of the foods it sells claim all kinds of health and environmental virtues. From its lengthy list of unacceptable ingredients for food to its strict rules for how seafood is caught and meat is raised, the company sets a pretty high bar for what is permitted on its coveted shelves.

Walk through the produce section of your supermarket and you'll see things you'd never have seen years ago — like fresh raspberries or green beans in the dead of winter.

Much of that produce comes from Mexico, and it's the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — which took effect 20 years ago this month.

In the years since, NAFTA radically changed the way we get our fruits and vegetables. For starters, the volume of produce from Mexico to the U.S. has tripled since 1994.

When you think about a scrumptious meal, airline food does not come to mind.

There are plenty of challenges to tasty airline meals, like the fact that many airlines now charge you for anything more than a tiny bag of chips and a plastic cup of non-alcoholic drink, at least on domestic flights. Plus, you can't cook on an airplane, so anything you're served has probably been chilled, then reheated. And flight delays certainly don't help with the freshness factor.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Austinites got a taste of California yesterday with the opening of the city’s first In-N-Out Burger at 45th and Airport. The drive thru is known for made-to-order burgers and an ordering system that allows you to micromanage your meal. (Want your bun extra toasted? Just ask.) 

In-N-Out Burger has no freezers. No microwaves. No heat lamps. And In-N-Out has been quietly going against another trend in the low-wage, low-benefit fast food industry: they're paying their employees much more than the industry standard. 

flickr.com/tuchodi

As Thanksgiving nears, attention turns to the kitchen. And as families across the country prepare their family meals for Thursday, a debate: whether to stuff the bird.

Field & Feast is a weekly feature airing Saturdays on KUT and KUTX. On the Field & Feast website, Cecilia Nasti wades into the stuffing debate and offers the following advice on how to avert dressing disasters and other Thanksgiving goofs.

What’s turkey without stuffing? That wonderful bready filling, saturated with the savory juices of your holiday bird is heaven – that is, until it makes someone sick. 

The challenges of cooking a stuffed bird is getting the stuffing to reach the food safe temperature of the cooked turkey: 165° F.

flickr.com/dno1967b

A “healthy food zone” ordinance could be in the works for areas surrounding Austin schools, parks, recreation centers, libraries and child care centers. And that could potentially mean a prohibition on new fast food restaurants in those areas.

In an effort to battle childhood obesity, the City of Austin and Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services have developed a Community Health Improvement Plan. One of the priorities in the plan is creating healthier environments for children. To that end, the plan has an objective of creating “healthy food zones” around specific areas by June 2016.

flickr.com/atmtx

Update: And the results are in. Truck By Truckwest, Austin’s first ever food truck taste-off, has a winner. 

After 1,400 votes were cast, Texas-inspired sandwich joint Hey! … You Gonna Eat or What? and chef/owner Eric Regan took home a $10,000 prize. Over 60 food trucks, showcasing a wide array of culinary creations, took part in the five-day event.

Austin Food for Life founder Brian Stubbs will also be presented a check for $3,100. Ten percent of the event’s proceeds were donated to the nonprofit, which helps Austin’s food and beverage service community access health care.

Original story (Oct. 31): It seems like you find them on almost every street in Austin: Airstreams, buses and trailers surrounded by chairs and picnic tables – a movable feast tucked away in whatever alleyway, vacant lot or convenience store that can hold them.

A new trend is brewing in the coffee world: coffee prepared by a robot, able to be preordered via cellphone and picked up at an unmanned kiosk, perfectly adjusted to your taste and ready to go.

To some, this might seem lamentable: the beginning of the end of coffee shops as we know them. No more huddling around warm cups of coffee with friends or sipping a refreshing iced latte while reading.

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