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Imagine yourself as a child, frolicking through your parents’ backyard and digging up worms. Your mother calls you in from the kitchen for dinner and you bound in through the back door, smelling the roast she’s been tending to for the past few hours. At the table your father sits reading the newspaper, your sister fidgeting with a bow in her hair. Before you is the same familiar spread: off-white plates, clear glasses, spotless silverware, uniform serving utensils, and of course, the butter dish. You think nothing of the materials off of which you shovel food into your mouth, moving as quickly as possible to resume your outdoor activities. For hours your mother slaved over the stove to prepare your meal, but that won’t cross your mind until present day when, as an adult, you prepare meals for yourself and maybe even your own children. Now is a time when you’ve come to understand the worth of quality Tupperware, the importance of a sturdy teakettle.

On display this summer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an exhibition which allows you to take your newfound appreciation for kitchenware to another level. “The Main Dish” is composed of display cases plainly contrived so as to draw focus on the objects within them, like original Tupperware or decades old decanters. The arrangements evoke a strange feeling of appreciation for kitchenware as art, as many of the items are expertly crafted yet have obvious functionality. The show centers around the notion that the gadgets, cutlery, and dishware in today’s kitchens mirror the qualities of ideal homemakers: “polished, efficient, organized/contained, decorative/entertaining, and clean/tidy.” MORE

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Fishing for the Truth

In light of widespread fraud, activists seek honest labeling

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Looking over a typical day’s selection at the fishmonger, you might notice that the light pink flesh of a fluke, $12 per pound, looks remarkably like that of the pricier sole, at $16 per pound, right beside it. In fact, the two fillets could be swapped for each other and no one would know the difference. Unfortunately, this kind of seafood fraud happens much more often than you probably think.

This year, Oceana, an ocean conservation group, began reporting findings from its ongoing seafood labeling investigations. In July, Oceana found that nearly one third of 60 South Florida restaurants had mislabeled their seafood. In Los Angeles, Oceana found 55 percent of seafood had been mislabeled and in Boston, almost half (48 percent) had been mislabeled. Of 76 fish samples collected from 58 restaurants, 76 percent of samples had been mislabeled. When working with the Monterey County Weekly, Oceana also found that 7 out of 19 seafood samples (36 percent) were incorrectly identified. MORE

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Good News: Nigella Lawson is back on TV. Her new show, a reality-style culinary competition called The Taste, debuted on Wednesday night on ABC and it was wonderful to see her again. The show itself may be a nearly unwatchable mishmash of hackneyed reality TV contrivances, but it’s worth tuning in just for Nigella’s screen time. In the debut episode, when she was profiled in a “meet the judges” segment, the first thing she said, unabashed, was “I love fat!”

Last week via her blog, Nigella informed her fans that when The Taste’s photo production types attempted to eliminate the round curve of her midsection from the show’s promotional images, the Domestic Goddess refused. “I was very strict and English and told them they weren’t allowed to airbrush my tummy out,” she wrote. MORE

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Nutrition, New Phrases, and National Happiness

Fascinating food reads from around the web

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Welcome back to Binge Reading. On this week’s program: fast food the world over, eating crow, and what your country’s happiness means for your health.

We get squeamish at the idea of eating bugs in America but you might be surprised to learn that the rest of the world seems to have no problem snacking on the crunchy critters. The LA Times presents a quiz to test your knowledge on all things bugs and food, with just a dash of pop culture. Hint: If you’ve ever had Raisinets, you’ve already eaten bugs.

One of the reasons McDonald’s has been so successful at the international level is the fact that they are willing to readapt their menu to suit the culture and customs of different countries. But they’re not the only fast food chain that’s learned this business secret. See a slideshow of international fast food items you, unfortunately, cannot find in the States at The Daily Meal. MORE

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Predators, Pandas, and Pizza

Fascinating food reads from around the web

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Ready for your weekly serving of Binge Reading? It’s okay to have a second helping. On our reading radar this week: history and the food chain, healthier vending machines, the best health supplements.

Today, humans may be at the top of the food chain but Slate reminds us that we weren’t always. We used to have predators such as big cats and even giant eagles to worry about on a daily basis. Turns out, humans made pretty good snacks. Having less hair than other mammals makes us easier to digest.

Salon picks up documenting our ancestral timeline just a bit later. Right around the time we were starting to gain a leg up on the food chain, we started eating pandas. Panda fossils recently excavated in China indicate that one of today’s favorite endangered animals used to be dinner. MORE

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Bugs, Battles, and Balls

Fascinating food reads from around the web

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Today’s Binge Reading isn’t for the feint of heart or the weak of stomach. This week: politics and poison, disgusting contests, and the secret to a longer life.

While some people believe regulations concerning the food supply are a symptom of a nanny state, Salon’s take is that maybe, in some situations, big government is still necessary. Say, if there’s arsenic in your food and drinking water—which is unfortunately not a hypothetical.

Yahoo offers up coverage of this week’s weirdest contest: Live cockroach eating. The winner of the contest was set to receive a python, but unfortunately he died from consuming roaches before he could claim the snake. MORE

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Golden Arches, Garlic, and Giant Vegetables

Fascinating food reads from around the web

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Another Wednesday, another Binge Reading. Here’s a weekly round up of the best of all things food on the web this week. Grab some Pepto, folks. Up next: fast food, vampires, and the latest Bieber scoop.

Apparently we called it too soon. Slate is already saying that last week’s purported bacon shortage was a “senseless panic.” Hey, I’m just happy to know I wasn’t the only one panicking. But, the conclusion of the whole troublesome affair is that bacon will most likely cost more—news sure to cause riots in streets across the land.

Big business becomes more successful each day at unlocking the secret to brainwashing. The LA Times reports that children’s brains now react to seeing fast food logos, specifically the pleasure center of the brain. I know for fact my brain lit up as soon as I opened that link. Cause you know what those golden arches signify in my mind? Salty, salty french fries. And delicious ice-cold Coca-Cola. And man oh man could I go for about a million McNuggets right now.

In other fast food news, Pizza Hut has come up with another genius idea redefining how we think of pizza crust. You can order a pizza with a crust filled with cream cheese or chicken, if you live in the Middle East anyway. Nothing wrong with that, unless you’re the author of this Serious Eats article, in which case you had your mind made up before you even pitched this article. Jerk.

In addition to being a sex addict, Tiger Woods is also a vampire—according to Bon Appetit. No, he’s not just being a golf diva that turns up his nose at the smell of garlic; he has a legitimate garlic allergy. If that’s not proof of a vampire, go back and closely examine some photos of Tiger. I think you’ll notice little dazzling sparkles in particularly sunny pictures. (Because Twilight jokes will never get old, right?) MORE

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Bacon, Brains, and Bill Cosby

Fascinating food reads from around the web

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Welcome to Binge Reading, your weekly source for the most important food reading from around the web in one easily digestible column. For those normally too busy  for web browsing breaks but still curious of everything food, give these a read during your lunch break. Or don’t… at least not this week. Coming up: the very worst news, a few lessons, and proof that there ain’t no party like a Viking party.

We can all thank The Daily Meal for helping remind us of ridiculous first world problems while simultaneously giving us the worst news we’ve heard this week: there might be a global bacon shortage. And yeah, it’s related to global warming, the summer’s droughts, and all this wonky weather. If it doesn’t rain, we can’t feed our pigs. Well, this is really it. Who cares if the world ends in December now? No bacon, no point. Now there’s a philosophy by which to live out the end of days.

In today’s an-app-for-everything world, humans have become inept at completing even the most basic of tasks without the assistance of technology. Case and point, The Guardian’s online article teaching you how to eat a bowl of cereal. If you think this morning ritual is as simple as adding milk and using a spoon, you’ve been doing it wrong.

Also demonstrative of the falling intelligence of the human race: our inability to read food labels. The San Francisco Chronicle has kindly listed up the most common terms we read wrong, and that includes everything from “Made in…” to “Natural.”

The New York Times published the most depressing online quiz in the history of online quizzing. (And it used to be such a fun and frivolous history, too…) Just work your way through seven short, and mildly distressing, eating-related questions to find out if you are addicted to food. Unless you receive the strangely ambiguous result “Possible Addiction,” you’ll have a full proof New York certified diagnosis. MORE

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High Steaks

That $40 filet mignon is about to get even pricier

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A few months ago, Garth Weldon made a tough call. As the managing partner at Philadelphia’s The Prime Rib, he saw rising beef prices eating up his already narrow margins. He tried to cut back everywhere he could, but ultimately he did what restaurateurs hate to do: he raised prices. The full prime rib went from $49 to $53, and the restaurant’s annual “15 for 15” promotion, where customers could get 15 ounces of prime rib for $15, went up by $5 to become “15 for 20.”

And that was before the Midwest drought.

Now, after the drought has decimated the corn crop used to feed most of the US beef supply, the United States Department of Agriculture is predicting beef prices will rise by at least 5 percent next year. For steakhouses like The Prime Rib, that means even more overhead, which means another menu price hike could loom on the horizon.

“Restaurateurs are always reluctant to raise prices,” Weldon says, “but you have to.” MORE