Archive for the 'Communications' Category

Adieu Chef

June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, chef, author and raconteur has been found dead at age 61. Waves of tributes pouring in from around the world are broadcast on television and every social media channel. His uncompromising qualities are remembered with admiration: “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.” His network show “Parts Unknown” made us face the reality that we could all try a little harder to coexist. And while on location in France, Anthony Bourdain threw in the towel and took his own life.

Rest in Peace, sir.

There are no six degrees of separation here. Yes, I read Kitchen Confidential, Yes, yes, I consider food like the ultimate art form, a creative experience for all the senses, all ages, all cultures. Hell yes, I do binge-watch Bourdain on CNN, longing to travel more fearlessly, armed only with a spoon. And yes, this morning, I awoke to news of his suicide and didn’t notice until now that I spent the entire morning reading news stories. My response is to honor the memory of this storyteller and food evangelist whom I admired with the hope that others will raise a glass silently with me.

Adieu Chef. Thank you for the culinary diplomacy you championed worldwide. Your appetites for other people and learning will be sorely missed.

According to, CNN will “be remembering our friend and colleague” with a special tribute, “Remembering Anthony Bourdain,” airing on June 8, at 10:00 pm (EST), and again at 10:00 pm (EST) on June 10.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying… If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.”

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

The Most Memorable Moments From Anthony Bourdain’s Shows

“Basic cooking skills are a virtue… the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”



Shifting the Reputation of Beans

March 17, 2018

In a balanced diet, a daily average of 5-6 servings of protein is recommended (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, see Beef industry marketing would prefer that you consume red meat daily – “Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.” However, in a healthy diet, red meat should make an appearance far less than the messaging would have you believe.

Those 5-6 daily servings of protein with only 2-3 servings of red meat per month leaves a lot of room to be creative.  And jumping in to fill this need is the bean — beans, peas and legumes offer an important source of protein in the choices for a nutrition-rich diet. The American Heart Association says eating beans as part of a heart-healthy diet can also improve blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Wall Street Journal writer, Anne Marie Chaker, notes that thanks to the food manufacturers, “bean-based snacks are fighting their way out of the health-food aisles and into the mainstream.”

Bean Appetite!

Turning Things Around for International Women’s Day

March 8, 2018

Banish the pink!

article by Kate Taylor in Business Insider

McDonald’s is flipping its iconic arches upside down in an unprecedented statement

People driving by a McDonald’s in Lynwood, California, might be baffled by an upside-down sign. The golden arches, typically standing as an M, have been flipped over to become a W.

But this isn’t a bizarre prank or a careless mistake. The upside-down arches are in “celebration of women everywhere,” a McDonald’s representative told Business Insider in an email.

Patricia Williams, the location’s franchisee, flipped her restaurant’s sign in honor of International Women’s Day on Thursday.

McDonald’s says it will turn its logo upside down on all its digital channels, such as Twitter and Instagram, on Thursday, while 100 restaurants will have special “packaging, crew shirts and hats, and bag stuffers” to celebrate.

“In celebration of women everywhere, and for the first time in our brand history, we flipped our iconic arches for International Women’s Day in honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of women everywhere and especially in our restaurants,” McDonald’s global chief diversity officer, Wendy Lewis, said in a statement.

Lewis continued: “From restaurant crew and management to our C-suite of senior leadership, women play invaluable roles at all levels, and together with our independent franchise owners, we’re committed to their success.”

Several brands, including Old Navy and Barbie, have debuted products to honor International Women’s Day. Meanwhile, some companies — such as BrewDog, which rolled out what it said was a satirical “beer for girls” called Pink IPA— have been criticized for using the day to advertise to women in what some consider a reductive manner.


If your kids don’t want broccoli, maybe they’ll want Disney broccoli

October 20, 2016

The magical quality of vegetables or fruit was never made clear to me as a child. They were something we ate as a matter of what we were told to do. Not having sugared cereals in the house as a rule made us less susceptible to the kid-targeted messaging of my youth. Now if Disney had been hawking broccoli to me as a child, I might have grown up vegetarian.

By Abha Bhattarai

The Washington Post October 19, 2016
(featured in Los Angeles Times October 20, 2016)

It’s come to this, America: Disney-branded fruits and vegetables.
Dole Food Co. said Friday it is partnering with Walt Disney Co. to market fresh produce to children nationwide. Characters from Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar films will now help hawk blueberries, bananas and broccoli.
“Disney and Dole have a shared mission of providing high quality produce to help families lead healthier lives,” Josh Silverman, executive vice president of global licensing at Disney, said in a statement.
The companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, nor did they say whether Disney-branded produce will be priced higher than nonbranded fruits and vegetables when they hit grocery shelves next month.

Last year, Burbank-based Disney partnered with Sage Fruit Co. for a similar campaign to promote the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Darth Vader helped market bags of apples; Yoda hawked green grapes.
Using well-known characters to sell nutrition is nothing new. Popeye famously persuaded children to eat spinach, and generations have grown up chewing Flintstones vitamins. In the 1990s, hundreds of dairy-mustached celebrities helped revive milk’s popularity with the “Got Milk?” advertising campaign.

“It’s not difficult to slap a character on a food and get kids to love it,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles-based branding expert. “But these days, anybody who tries to sell anything to kids also has to appeal to the parents. This is a way for Disney to prove to Mom and Dad: ‘See? We care about the health of your kids.’”

That’s different from the way items were marketed in the 1970s and ’80s, Frankel said. Back then, advertisers were focused squarely on appealing to children. General Mills, for example, marketed its popular line of sugar-laden cereals with characters such as Franken Berry and Count Chocula, while Pillsbury used cartoon figures Goofy Grape, Lefty Lemonade and Freckle-Faced Strawberry to promote its line of Funny Face powdered drinks.

“It was all about the nag factor,” Frankel said. “If companies sold the kids on it, eventually they’d whine and beg enough that Mom and Dad would buy it.”

But that began to change in the 1990s, he said, as baby boomers took a more hands-on approach to parenting. “All these helicopter parents needed to be told, ‘Mom and Dad, here’s the best thing for your kid,'” Frankel said.

As a result, companies shifted their marketing tactics to appeal to parents. They began adding phrases such as “all natural” and “no sugar” to their labels, and emphasized health-related benefits. Disney’s partnership with Dole — based in Westlake Village — is a step even further in that direction, Frankel said.

“Now they can get you from both sides,” Frankel said. “The kid is happy because it’s got a Disney princess on it, and Mom feels good because she’s buying a vegetable.”

[rede]Sign of the Times

February 27, 2014

Accessing nutrition information has always been a bit of a challenge. Even Burkey Belser who designed the original nutrition label has spoken about the complexity of presenting data which is part scientific and part public policy: “As soon as you make an item on the nutrition label bold, you are venturing into public policy, which was the challenge of the design initially.” (

Today’s New York Times reports that the time is right for re-design and the public will certainly take notice. With daily media reports on how fat we are as a nation, the use of graphic design to change our behaviors sounds downright propaganda-like. The content of the nutrition label will remain the same, part science and part public policy. But through the magic of typography, the communication about a food’s “value” to the body (consuming the food) will change in very noticeable ways.


Nutrition-Label-RedesignNew F.D.A. Nutrition Labels Would Make ‘Serving Sizes’ Reflect Actual Servings


WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration for the first time in two decades will propose major changes to nutrition labels on food packages, putting calorie counts in large type and adjusting portion sizes to reflect how much Americans actually eat.

It would be the first significant redrawing of the nutrition information on food labels since the federal government started requiring them in the early 1990s. Those labels were based on eating habits and nutrition data from the 1970s and ’80s, before portion sizes expanded significantly, and federal health officials argued that the changes were needed to bring labels into step with the reality of the modern American diet.

“It’s an amazing transformation,” said Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the F.D.A. “Things like the size of a muffin have changed so dramatically. It is important that the information on the nutrition fact labels reflect the realities in the world today.”

The proposed changes include what experts say will be a particularly controversial item: a separate line for sugars that are manufactured and added to food, substances that many public health experts say have contributed substantially to the obesity problem in this country. The food industry has argued against similar suggestions in the past.

“The changes put added sugars clearly in the cross hairs,” said Dr. David A. Kessler, who was commissioner during the original push for labels in the 1990s. “America has the sweetest diet in the world. You can’t get to be as big as we’ve gotten without added sweeteners.” Millions of Americans pay attention to food labels, and the changes are meant to make them easier to understand — a critical step in an era when more than one-third of adults are obese, public health experts say. The epidemic has caused rates of diabetes to soar, and has increased risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The proposal will be open to public comment for 90 days, and it will take months before any change is made final. In a special concession to industry, the agency is allowing companies two years to put the changes into effect.

The Obama administration will promote the measure in an anniversary event at the White House on Thursday for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which aims to reduce obesity in the United States. Dr. Hamburg and Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, are expected to be among the participants.

It was not clear how the food industry would react to the proposed changes, which Michael R. Taylor, the agency’s deputy commissioner for foods, estimated would cost about $2 billion to carry out. (He also said the health benefits could eventually be as much as $30 billion.) The Grocery Manufacturers’ Association, an industry group, said, “We look forward to working with the F.D.A. and other stakeholders.” It added, “It is critical that any changes are based on the most current and reliable science.”

Public health experts applauded the proposed changes, which they said were long overdue.

“I really like them. I’m kind of stunned actually,” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. The proposal “emphasizes calories; it’s got added sugars; it fixed the portion-size problem.”

She added, “My prediction is that this will be wildly controversial.”

In all, the agency has proposed changing the serving size in about 17 percent of the approximately 150 categories of packaged food, Dr. Hamburg said. It would also add labels to some foods that were not mainstream in the early 1990s, such as pot stickers, won ton wrappers and sun-dried tomatoes.

Twenty-ounce bottles of soda would be counted as one serving, rather than the 2.5 servings often listed now. And the serving size listed on cartons of ice cream, currently a half-cup, would be increased to one cup.

Continue reading the main story

“Half a cup of ice cream is absurd,” Professor Nestle said. “Unless you go to a really fancy restaurant, you’re lucky to come out under two cups.”

The American Beverage Association said that its members already counted 20-ounce bottles of soda as one serving on the label, a commitment they made several years ago as part of Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. Tracey A. Halliday, a spokeswoman, said that members also show calorie counts on the front of bottles. An F.D.A. spokeswoman said that the one serving count was not a federal requirement and was practiced by some producers, but not all.

Getting nutrition labels on food packages was a major battle. Dr. Kessler, the F.D.A. commissioner at the time, said the fight went all the way to the Oval Office, where President George Bush sided with the agency in what was considered a major victory for public health. More recent efforts have stalled, he said, including a push to get restaurants and movie theaters to put calorie counts on menus and efforts to put codes on the front of food packages to signal how healthy or harmful a food is.

He called the proposed changes “one of the most important public health upgrades in this decade.”

Other public health officials were skeptical, arguing that too few Americans use nutrition labels for the changes to make much of a difference. Others argued that restaurants, which are a major source of calories for Americans and have increased portion sizes substantially, are the biggest offenders.

“This is a false victory,” said Barry M. Popkin, a health researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, whose project to map what Americans eat has found that the average American consumes 300 calories of added sugars per day. “It will affect just a small segment of consumers who carefully study nutrition fact panels.”

Dr. Hamburg said that the changes were meant to improve “people’s awareness of how much and what they are eating” but could also have a helpful side effect. Detailing calories and portion sizes can be a strong market incentive for food companies to adjust what they put in food, she said. For example, when the agency last tinkered with labels, adding a category for trans fats in 2006, companies soon reduced the amount they added to food.

Smile! Cupcake Photo-Op on Friday August 1 at The Grove

July 26, 2013

Meet me at 3rd and Fairfax! The Grove (in the shadow of the Original Farmer’s Market) is introducing the world’s first cupcake photo booth at The Park on Friday, August 2 from 12 – 2pm. “Moments later, you will walk away with a cupcake adorned with your face on it!”
A word about parking: Grove parking IS NOT Farmer’s Market parking. Be sure you know which you need to be validated for. After my cupcake paparazzi moment, I’m looking forward to spending a moment reconnecting with all the great stalls/shops in the Farmer’s Market. Lunch might be waiting for me there!

Christmas Tamales in Los Angeles with Mom’s on Riverside

December 20, 2012

Networking is a beautiful thing! Check out


Today, a co-wacko and I were talking about where I could score some homemade tamales for Christmas. She didn’t know a resource but she knew someone who might. Having tamales as my contribution to Christmas dinner with my sweetheart’s family is my idea of a good thing! And that conversation at work got me talking with another co-wacko who highly recommended Mom’s Tamales (see link above) later in the afternoon.

You may have seen Mom’s, this hole-in-the-wall treasure, on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. Sitting at lunch today I quickly scoped this place out on Foursquare, located the menu, address and phone number (323) 226-9383.

Mom’s offers several tamales to tempt you: Pork, Beef, Chicken, Cheese or try some of their specialties: Chicken with Mole, Cheese with Spinach, or a sweet tamal with pineapple. Yow! Buying them frozen to steam later (for 1 hour, 15 minutes) will save you $2 per dozen. Mix and match.

Remember it’s cash only, they close their doors at 4:00 pm and checking in on Foursquare will make it more visible to other tamale lovers seeking a source for handmade tamales. Mom’s Tamales & Mexican Food, 3328 Pasadena Ave, Los Angeles CA, 90031

If tamales for Christmas are not something you have time to make, try some love from Mom’s instead.

Thanksgiving 2012

November 15, 2012

Don’t let the deadlines, headlines or stress mess with your gratitude. We all have a lot to be thankful for. Here’s some Thanksgiving recipes and treats to inspire you! Please feel free to repost and share…just let me know what time dinner is served and I’ll be there!

Try a New Orleans Thanksgiving. Last year Chef Guy DuPlantier III of Crazy Creole made ours magical with an All-American Creole Thanksgiving meal – gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding, ettouffe. Ain’t nothing but goodness!


Thinking about your Thanksgiving meal? Let the L.A. Food Bloggers group help you! We have tons of great ideas and recipes!


Bitten Word offers that it’s time to start planning your menu in earnest.


Organic is the new Placebo @NPRinskeep @KCRW

November 12, 2012

My grandfather loved to say, “I’ll take the placebo, please,” then smack his lips on the end of his Meerschaum pipe with a grin. He just loved to say it. I can hear the smile in his voice. As a chemist, placebos to him represented the power of words, power of labeling to create a desired effect from an inert treatment. No science, more fiction. No side effects, just thinking that calling something a cure, you would feel assured, feel cured or perhaps even be cured. He just loved to say it. And he also dutifully took his prescribed medication, his daily aspirin, knowing that no placebo effect would fool his high blood pressure. His wisdom was always there, in his jokes, his lectures, his advice, his letters.

The idea of a placebo having the power to change our minds really struck home with me when I first heard him say it; marketing is kind of a placebo. Marketing is words, trying to assure you, change your mind, make your life better, stay with you. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the phenomena of labeling food as “vegan” finding that fascinating because of the unwanted stigma, associating animal-free food with something tasteless or worse. Power of words and not effective marketing, right?

The label “homeopathic” is a placebo, for example. At one point in his letters, my grandfather dismissed homeopathic remedies as, “an expensive pack of placebos.” This was at a time when I was married. Ulcer medication that had been taken for more than a decade wasn’t working for my soon-to-be ex-husband, and he was convinced that switching to homeopathic remedies would be effective. Grandfather knew better. I hadn’t thought about this foolishness much until this last fall.

“Why Organic Food May Not be Healthier For You,” was a story on NPR I heard in early September. As I heard it, my thoughts went zipping to my grandfather. I was actually zipping along the northbound 110, about 70 mph, driving to work. Don’t get tense. The 110 commute is far more scenic, much less stressful and even faster than a single commute on the 405 ever was. My three years of commuting on the 405 sucked a joy from life that I will never get back. Being on the 110 was a treat by comparison. This morning like most mornings heading to work I was joined by broadcasts from KCRW. Radio is the source of my imaginary friend community now, those familiar voices that live in my car, unlike the childhood imaginary friends. Grandfather heard NPR stories on KUHF. On many a visit, he would encourage me to join him and his imaginary friend John Lienhard for the airing of The Engines of Our Ingenuity show. (

The voice of David Green was joined by Steve Inskeep (“I’m Steve Inskeep”) as they began talking about organic foods, how much people buy and about a Stanford University Medical School study. The study concluded that “there’s hardly any conclusive evidence at all of health benefits if you choose organic.” Placebo alert! I turned up the volume and signaled to change lanes. My grandfather would love this story; “as far as scientists are concerned…”organic was the new placebo. I heard that Stanford was raising the distinct possibility that foods grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were no more, no less nutritious than conventionally grown produce. My mind flashed to my last shopping experience at Albertsons, where organic produce was segregated into different bins and boasted higher prices. Organic cucumbers often look like the smaller, less sexy version of conventionally grown cucumbers. And I pay more for the label – the label which makes me feel less guilty for food that isn’t actually healthier? Score 1 for marketing.

On the ballot in California, one of the 11 proposed measures took up food labeling as its cause. This interested me but I quickly found myself against it. Organic farmers were strongly in favor of labeling requirements on genetically modified foods. The requirement would exempt restaurants and certified organic growers from identifying foods as modified, while the administrative cost on the state was anticipated to be more than $1 million. Who benefits? Not the smaller regional farmers who can’t afford the costs of certifying their crops. And the lawyers win, as always with lawsuits that would result when growers were found out of compliance. It was defeated 53.1% to 46.9% and labeling for genetically modified foods was found an ineffective placebo. The Just Label It movement is afoot to force the hand of the FDA to address the labeling elephant in the room. My grandfather would love that fight.

He would have. Shortly after NPR aired the story on organic foods, my grandfather passed away. I can never again share the NPR stories, conversations or even blog posts again. I miss him very much. His words, his wisdom as a chemist, an organic gardener, and a grandfather have a profound impact on me. In exploring the intersection of food and discovery, I find myself keeping the spirit of “placebo” close, and the words of my grandfather closer.


@Zagat A food by any other name would sound as odd!

May 17, 2012

Kelly Dobkin, Zagat writer, names 10 oddly-named foods which are, to American consumers, foreign. The name of each food does not reflect an inedible combination but rather an unexpected one. Vegemite, that horrific “brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract” (Wikipedia) did not make the list.

One item in the informative slide show (see link below), reminded me of some food packaging gaffes I cherish.

In my community, where there are many Asian markets, access to Japanese and Korean packaging is plentiful. Studying packaging design at Art Center, I delighted in the ways a simple attempt at marketing a food could go so wrong in translation. Seeing the photo of Poccari Sweat in Zagat’s slide show, I giggled. A decade ago, when co-workers on the Marketing Team joined me at Mitsuwa or Marukai market food court for lunch, we would bring back purchases of packaging to the office. Poccari Sweat or “calpis” water never failed to elicit a smile. Lemon drops promising “refleshing flavor” added to the evidence of linguistic confusion. I toast Darth who seems to be reintroducing English to students of Binghampton University – this pocky’s for you!

Teacher Tom Robb blogs about the inclusion of English into Japanese:

Do we American English speakers take for granted the gold standard of a language that absorbs foreign words into the vernacular with ease? Evidence of our words inserted in the conversations of non-native English speakers can often sound really wrong. “On trouve ces substances chimiques dans toutes une série de produits, comme les shampooings” exchanges the verb shampooing for the noun shampoo, as in “these chemicals are found in a number of products, for example shampoo.” Are we more fluid or fluent?

I will close this nostalgic post with foods for thought:

Bon Appetit