Egypt for $2.4 million

One pyramid for a handful. In a country where eating a box of low-fat chocolate chip cookies is considered healthy, the USDA might have considered a Food 2x4.


Calling all fingers

The fallout from the finding of a finger bit in a bowl of Wendy's chili in San Jose, Calif., has become expensive -- on many levels. Not only did the discovery make front-page headlines in the national media, but according to a corporate release from Wendy's President Tom Mueller, employees at the restaurant of repute have been "hard hit by the negative publicity caused by the incident." Following a drop in sales, management has had to cut back shifts and lay off some workers. Law enforcement has confirmed, however, that all staff members still have a complete set of 10 whole fingers.

The fast-food chain is offering a $100,000 reward, to be advertised in major newspapers starting today, for any information that leads to the proverbial fingering of the contamination culprit.

UPDATE: The alleged victim, Anna Ayala, in this case has since been arrested on charges of grand larceny and grand theft. San Jose police believe the Las Vegas woman planted the finger herself. Ayala denies the charges. Police are still searching for the source of the severed finger.

Tearing down the Food Pyramid

The USDA is set to unveil a new nutritional shape to better reflect the department's updated nutritional guidelines. The previous Food Pyramid (pyramid!), which illustated a suggested diet that was essentially low-fat and moderate- to high-carb, will be tossed for a new shape that the USDA hopes will help guide Americans toward healthier habits and slimmer waistlines.

According to this Reuters article, some of the shapes suggested are other geometric standards, such as circles or squares, or the creative, such as floating balloons. Somehow, a Food Balloon might strike a tad too close to home for the growing proportion of the country's grossly obese. The new symbol is expected to be released April 19 in the U.S.


By the roadside

For a solid and sobering read about the economics of strawberry production, take a look at Andy Griffin of Mariquita Farm's essay entitled, "Coming up Cherries." According to the piece, Griffin was approached by a local pastor inquiring about assistance for a Mexican family looking for an agricultural contact to provide them with strawberries to sell for a little extra cash. What follows is an insider's look at the expensive reality of strawberry cultivation, the delicate balance of legal practices and illegal realities, and how organic farming should mean more than just expensive, pesticide-free produce.

If you live in the Bay area, you can find Mariquita produce at the San Francisco Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building on Saturdays, or even subscribe to receive a weekly delivery of organic vegetable boxes from Two Small Farms. You don't have to live in the Bay area, however, to subscribe to the Ladybug Letter from Mariquita Farms.


Mess of meat

A truck hauling 16 tons of rotting meat on Tuesday was seized by agricultural inspectors in Florida and its contents dumped into a local landfill. According to the Associated Press, inspectors noticed "a smell" coming from the truck, and also noticed that the truck's refrigerator unit had malfunctioned. The mass of beef, chicken and seafood was allegedly heading to 30 local Chinese restaurants in the Jacksonville area.