Food

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Fifty-nine percent of front-line fast-food workers in Texas rely on public assistance programs such as food stamps and Medicaid to support their families, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Nationally, more than half – 52 percent – of the families of front-line fast-food workers use at least one public assistance program, compared with a quarter of the total workforce, according to the report. The research was sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Labor Research and Education and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Urban & Regional Planning.

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When Sunday of this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival was canceled, concert promoters were widely congratulated for finding alternate venues for many of the day’s headliners.

But what about another collection of festival talent: the food vendors that kept crowds fed?

While Sunday headliners Atoms for Peace rocked a capacity crowd after a last-minute rescheduling – and Lionel Richie played for a lucky, select few – there were no rebookings for the nearly 40 food vendors at ACL’s Austin Eats food court. Instead, vendors were left to rely on their wits alone to salvage such a potentially devastating blow.

KUT News

Is a Pike Place-style permanent farmers market a perfect fit for downtown Austin? The Austin Downtown Alliance held a meeting this morning exploring the possibility.

David O’Neill with the Project for Public Spaces spoke about the concept earlier today. He tells KUT News that permanent farmers markets are cropping up all over the country.

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Update: The Associated Press reports a deep fried Cuban roll took top honors at the State Fair of Texas’ “Big Tex Choice Awards” this year: That's shredded pork, ham, cheese, pickles and sauce, rolled in dough and thrown in a deep fat fryer.

Another foodstuff profiled below – Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (which is exactly like it sounds) – took the prize for “Most Creative” entrée. The State Fair opens Sept. 27.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Some Austin fast food workers are joining a nationwide strike for higher wages. Employees from Wendy’s, Jack in the Box and Long John Silver’s gathered in protest this afternoon on Guadalupe Street near the UT campus.

Greg Lee works at Long John Silver’s. He makes $7.25 an hour.

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The price Americans pay for beef hit a record high last month, according to a federal report quietly released Thursday morning. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly "beef values and price spreads" report shows a pound of beef at the grocery store averaged $5.36 across the country. That's an increase of more than a dollar over the past five years. 

So it's all because of the drought making feed ridiculously expensive, right? Well, that's part of it. But there's more to it, according to David Anderson, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University. 

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Austin’s seen its share of boom-and-bust food cycles: Think the explosion of cupcake places, or proliferation of upscale burger joints. One of the newest beneficiaries of Austin’s irrational culinary exuberance is the pizza place. The last few years has seen a marked increase in the number of posh pie purveyors: Umami Mia, backspace and Winflo, to name a few.

Austin’s pizza scene garners some shine in controversial rankings from TripAdvisor – controversial, as Austin’s sixth place ranking puts it just two spots behind behind pizza mecca New York City. 

Minza Khan for KUT News

During the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk. Austin's Nueces Mosque in West Campus hosts free iftar dinners, a communal feast where Muslims break their day’s fast after sunset. The iftars are open to all members of the community, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Sabrina Khwaja, a University of Texas senior, said she frequents Nueces Mosque during Ramadan to engage with the local Muslim community. The location makes it easy for her to stop by. When she first heard about Nueces, Khwaja was relieved to find out she no longer had to break her fast alone.

It's not even noon yet but every table out front of the Pecan Lodge in downtown Dallas is filled with veterans with barbecue heaped on their plates, smirking at the gobsmacked newbies. First timers are easily discernible by the stunned looks on their faces when they walk in and see the line.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

What's Austin's most important export: its music, its technology ... or its breakfast tacos? 

The way author and Latino marketing consultant Mando Rayo sees it, the Austin breakfast taco is on par with the city itself in terms of significance. He should know – he’s eaten over 500 different breakfast tacos.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States. More than three times as many children are obese today compared to a generation ago. 

In Central Texas, some of the highest childhood obesity rates can be found in the Southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs. The area has attracted the attention of social scientists who are looking at everything from the built environment, to the number of parks, to the socio-economic demographics, to the availability of healthy food.

It’s that last item – access to fresh produce in particular – that is the focus of an effort by Austin’s Sustainable Food Center. The non-profit has partnered with other groups to set up a temporary produce stand at the Dove Springs Recreation Center for three hours on Wednesdays for part of the summer.

Gefei Liu for KUT News

Herbs and vegetables are growing at the University of Texas’ student operated micro farm.

At the backyard-sized farm, located off of Manor Road, a green house is still under construction. But farmers have planted tomatoes and herbs, including lavender and mint. Workers have about three months until the farm is completely set up.

Update (4:30 p.m.): Austin Police are warning that I-35 southbound could be closed through the evening:

Original Story: Southbound Interstate 35 is shut down just past Riverside because a semi truck is on fire. 

Austin Police and Fire crews have moved southbound traffic to the access road.

AFD spokesperson Palmer Buck estimated the closures may be in effect until rush hour. Northbound traffic is also backed up because of onlookers.

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Time to crack open your recipe books, food entrepreneurs. A bill signed into law by Governor Perry overhauls regulation of so-called “cottage food businesses” to allow people to sell more products directly to consumers from more places: not just from their homes, but also at farmers markets, festivals, fairs and other events. The law takes effect September 1. 

There are a few qualifications to the law, along with a list of banned foods, so here's an easy to digest breakdown of House Bill 910.

courtesy Qui Restaurant/Parallel Architecture

It’s been more than a year since Austinite Paul Qui cooked up a win on Bravo TV’s Top Chef. It was especially sweet because the season was shot in Texas, including here in Austin. Paul Qui took home $125,000, and he could have followed the path of some of his predecessors by opening a restaurant in New York City or something like that, but instead he doubled down on his East Side King food stands in Austin. 

Expert bartender David Alan was born and raised in Austin and remembers the years when bar patrons were perfectly comfortable with their margaritas and Lone Stars. Alan watched the city's drinking scene flourish over the past few years as craft cocktail bars opened and new distilleries took root.

Now, he's got a book to document the best of the best. Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State hit bookshelves Tuesday, and Alan came to KUT to talk about spirits of the Capitol City.

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Update: Dennis Mick with the Mueller Neighborhood Association says 119 Mueller and East Austin residents dined at Kerbey Lane last night "to encourage management to consider a location in the Mueller community."

Original post (June 11): How’s this for a chant: What do we want? Migas! When do we want ‘em? Now!

Dozens of residents of the Mueller neighborhood will stage an “eat-in” at the original Kerbey Lane Cafe tonight. Except the purpose isn’t to protest – instead, it’s designed to show residents’ hopes for a Kerbey Lane in their burgeoning Austin neighborhood.

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A new report spotlights the success and shortfalls of summer lunch programs for Texas students.

The Food Research and Action Center found that the number of lunch programs across the state grew by 17 percent last year. However, these programs only reach about 11 percent of low-income children receiving school lunches.

Matthew Odam, Austin American-Statesman

The food trailer park on South Congress just closed down, and a lot of people were upset about it. But there is still a big food-truck scene here in Austin with a wide range of cuisines; you just have to know where to look.

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A federal district judge has overturned a federal emergency rule that would shorten the red snapper fishing season to as few as 12 days in Texas – down from a projected 22 days.

Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger says that he is disappointed in the ruling. The federal decision that would have shortened the season was put in place to stop the overfishing of red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.

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