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Trends in food

(article, Culinate staff)

Every fall, the New Yorker puts out a theme issue focused on food. This year's issue, just out, includes a look at the macho subculture of chile-pepper aficionados ("Chili growing is to gardening as grilling is to cooking, allowing men to enter, and dominate, a domestic sphere without sacrificing their bluster"); a explanation of why Greek yogurt is suddenly everywhere ("With Chobani, Ulukaya has transformed a product with a distinctly ethnic identity into an entirely American product — and this kind of transformation is the most American story there is"); and a meandering reverie on family history and the meaning of bread-baking ("And if all this sounds a touch Freudian for a man baking with his mother, well, the Oedipal dramas we enter knowingly leave us better sighted, not blind").

There's also a profile of an inventive Italian chef and short memoirs from the likes of Zadie Smith. Best, though, is Dana Goodyear's report on animal-rights activism, sustainable seafood, contamination in industrial food, restaurant fraud, and what our meat-and-fish preferences say about us, culturally. The short version: We don't want to eat animals that we've been taught to think of as pets (dogs, cats) or intelligent, noble creatures (horses, whales). As Goodyear puts it:

bq. Conservationists argue, persuasively, that it's selfish and ecologically dangerous to eat animals whose populations are threatened. But not all cetaceans are endangered. For most people, the real problem is one not of quantity but of kind; in a murky, sentimental way, some species just seem too humanlike to eat.