WBEZ | Food http://www.wbez.org/sections/food Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Tax on sugary drinks gets pushback http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/tax-sugary-drinks-gets-pushback-112752 <p><p dir="ltr">Just weeks after Chicago Ald. George Cardenas&rsquo; proposed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the soda industry shot back with a battery of testimonials.</p><p dir="ltr">They came from an industry funded group called the<a href="http://illinoisbeverage.org/chicago-coalition-against-beverage-taxes-launches-opposition-to-discriminatory-beverage-tax/"> Chicago Coaltion Against Beverage Taxes</a>. And among its members is the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Omar Duque leads the chamber and says its members would be &ldquo;adversely affected by the tax&rdquo; because it would drive soda sales down.</p><p dir="ltr">But that&rsquo;s exactly why Esther Sciammerella of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition supports a tax.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We see the increases in obesity in children and adults in the Hispanic community, and the issue of diabetes and metabolic syndrome has become epidemic,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So we advocate drinking water, not soda.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="The proposed tax on sugary drinks would fund obesity prevention programs, but the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes says soda taxes don't better public health. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/HKNfY0sCT1cBDGupbjiw643iZ_PT5_P6HVlAG1TU2CQh3aMsZruWsf9-2AmnRNTlPjR3i2vOIuZb4Id3RDqEgi3-KRaYMH-pwn76XmRpVefHSeBk3Rq3XkVG2CT99CUK1MzvMyw" style="text-align: center; font-family: Arial; font-size: 14.6666669845581px; white-space: pre-wrap; border: none; transform: rotate(0rad); height: 241px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The proposed tax on sugary drinks would fund obesity prevention programs, but the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes says soda taxes don't better public health. (WBEZ/Monica Eng)" /></p><p dir="ltr">Duque says he recognizes that Latinos suffer from high levels of sugar-related disease. &nbsp;But he doesn&rsquo;t think a local soda tax--that builds on sugar taxes already in place--would help.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our particular opposition is specifically focused around the fact that studies show that punitive taxes around this don&rsquo;t solve the issue,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;An excise tax on sugared beverages would drive down product sales, but it would not really push the needle to reduce obesity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">As evidence, he cites taxes on sugary beverages in Arkansas and West Virginia, which have some of the highest obesity rates in the nation. But Elissa Bassler of the Illinois Public Health Institute--which is also backing a<a href="http://iphionline.org/2015/03/heal-act-reintroduced-makes-a-splash/"> state soda tax</a> to fund Medicaid--believes the comparison is inappropriate.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The [soda] taxes in those states are much much lower and they don&rsquo;t go to fund prevention programs like the proposals in Chicago and Illinois&rsquo;,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The proposed city soda tax would fund health programs in Chicago Public Schools. And supporters of the state tax say it could raise $600 million for Medicaid and obesity prevention each year.</p><p dir="ltr">For many, soda taxes are complicated issues in low-income minority communities. According to <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/163997/regular-soda-popular-young-nonwhite-low-income.aspx">2013 Gallup data,</a> whites drink sugary soda only about half as often as minorities. &nbsp;And those who make more than $75,000 a year are half as likely to drink regular soda as those who make less than $30,000 a year.</p><p dir="ltr">So Bassler concedes that the excise tax could affect the pocketbook of low-income minorities more than others.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;But we need to remember [minorities] are also disproportionately targeted by the marketers for sugary drinks,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And those are the communities that are most impacted by the health problems attributable to excess consumption of sugary drinks.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes is not the first such coalition funded by the soda industry. Similar groups crop up in most places taxes are proposed. A <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/nyregion/behind-soda-industrys-win-a-phalanx-of-sponsored-minority-groups.html?_r=0">2013 New York Times investigation</a> also detailed millions in soda industry funding to minority groups who would later come out vocally against soda taxes.</p><p dir="ltr">Duque says Coca-Cola is, and has been a dues-paying member of his organization for around 20 years. But he says that has nothing to do with his opposition to the tax.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We are not being paid off to be part of this,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We represent businesses in our community, that hire people and have a positive impact in the communities in which they operate and their employees live. They&rsquo;re telling us that they would be adversely affected by this tax. The more we can help these business to continue to operate and be profitable, the more of an impact we&rsquo;re going to have on our economy.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Still, Sciammerella of the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition questions those priorities.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What is the positive role of businesses who are not helping the health of the community?&rdquo; she asks. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m pro-health and helping people to be less sick. What good are profits if they come with the consequence of increased illness in the community?&rdquo;</p><p><br /><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at<a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a>&nbsp;or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/tax-sugary-drinks-gets-pushback-112752 Despite the drought, California farms see record sales http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/despite-drought-california-farms-see-record-sales-112741 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/gettyimages-471006602-99705b6d250521f4014e8c84f29849326d342a59-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>While prolonged drought has put a strain on California agriculture, most of the state&#39;s farms, it seems, aren&#39;t just surviving it: They are prospering.</p><p>The environment, though, that&#39;s another story. We&#39;ll get to that.</p><p>But first, the prosperity. According to new&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/farm-income-and-wealth-statistics/annual-cash-receipts-by-commodity.aspx#P892cc423657a499584e30a89895d0f4d_2_16iT0R0x5">figures</a>&nbsp;from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2014, the year the drought really hit, California&#39;s farmers sold $54 billion worth of crops like almonds or grapes, and animal products like milk.</p><p>That&#39;s an all-time record, up 5 percent over the previous year, and an increase of 20 percent from 2012.</p><p>If you&#39;re surprised by this, you haven&#39;t been paying close attention, says&nbsp;<a href="http://are.ucdavis.edu/en/people/faculty/daniel-sumner/#pk_campaign=short-name-redirect&amp;pk_kwd=sumner">Daniel Sumner</a>, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis. It&#39;s been clear for some time, he says, that California&#39;s farmers did very well last year.</p><p>There are two keys to the record-breaking revenues. The first is prices. &quot;You have all-time high prices over the whole range of crops,&quot; says Richard Howitt, another economist at UC Davis.</p><p>Second, even though farmers didn&#39;t get their normal supply of water from rivers and reservoirs, they pumped it from underground aquifers instead. According to a&nbsp;<a href="https://watershed.ucdavis.edu/files/biblio/DroughtReport_23July2014_0.pdf">report</a>&nbsp;that Sumner and Howitt co-authored last year, farmers in 2014 replaced about 75 percent of their surface water deficit by draining their groundwater reserves.</p><p>James McFarlane, who grows almonds and citrus near Fresno, is one of those farmers. He says that drought has been &quot;beyond terrible&quot; for some farmers. But for him personally? &quot;It&#39;s been a good year. We&#39;ve been able to make some money, and you have to just count your blessings and call that a good year,&quot; he says.</p><p>McFarlane has received some irrigation water from Kings River, via the Fresno Irrigation District, but he is also pumping water from his wells. &quot;If it weren&#39;t for the wells, we couldn&#39;t have made it work,&quot; he says.</p><p>Howitt says that there are two contrasting realities in California agriculture these days. &quot;Some people just don&#39;t have the underground water. You meet these people and they really are in poor shape,&quot; he says. But where there is water, &quot;you have investors pouring money into planting these almond trees at a rate that they&#39;ve never seen before.&quot;</p><p>But this is also where the environmental damage comes in. Those underground reserves are getting depleted, wells are going dry, and in many locations, the land is sinking as water is drawn out. When this happens, it permanently reduces the soil&#39;s ability to absorb and store water in the future.</p><p>California has enacted new rules that eventually should stop farmers from pumping so much groundwater, but for now, it continues. This year, California&#39;s farmers are still pumping enough groundwater to replace about 70 percent of the shortfall in surface water, according to a new UC Davis&nbsp;<a href="https://watershed.ucdavis.edu/files/biblio/Final_Drought%20Report_08182015_Full_Report_WithAppendices.pdf">report</a>.</p><p>Such massive use of groundwater can&#39;t continue forever, and high commodity prices probably won&#39;t, either. Milk prices already have fallen, and if China stops buying so much of California&#39;s nut production, those prices may crash as well.</p><p>On the good side, though, maybe rain and snow will return, filling the reservoirs again.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/08/27/434649587/despite-the-drought-california-farms-see-record-sales?ft=nprml&amp;f=434649587" target="_blank"><em>NPR&#39;s The Salt</em></a></p></p> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 05:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/despite-drought-california-farms-see-record-sales-112741 Low wheat prices leave a gluten glut at Midwest's grain elevators http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/low-wheat-prices-leave-gluten-glut-midwests-grain-elevators-112642 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_133792988199_wide-7fe03c7ed92b6fea41438a880b1a66cedd8bb9e9-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The sun hasn&#39;t been up long in Kingfisher, Okla., but it already feels like it&#39;s burning. Trucks are moving wheat as people try to get their work done early. It looks like business as usual for a hot summer day an hour northwest of Oklahoma City.</p><p>Henry Senn, Jim Willms and Bill Stolz come to CHS Plains Partners, the local grain elevator, just about every day to share stories from the good old days and talk about wheat prices.</p><p>They harvested their wheat in early June, but with spring floods, the quality of the wheat wasn&#39;t good. That&#39;s one of the factors driving down prices and keeping the grain elevators at capacity.</p><p>Right, now, the price for a bushel of wheat is slumping to just over $5, the lowest it&#39;s been in five years, and these farmers that costs them a lot of money &mdash; as much as $20,000 or $30,000 for an average grower, Senn says.</p><p>&quot;Three years ago, the average wheat price in the United States was $7.70 a bushel, and it cost about $4.75 to produce it. There was a lot of profit,&quot; says Oklahoma State University professor Kim Anderson, who helps farmers figure out when to sell their wheat. &quot;You could make a lot of money raising wheat, and so farmers raised wheat.&quot;</p><p>So, over the past several years, supply on the world market has been steadily increasing, but demand hasn&#39;t been.</p><p>And that&#39;s not the only factor. The value of the dollar is up, making it more expensive for overseas customers to buy American wheat. Jay Minton manages several grain elevators for Plains Partners in Oklahoma.</p><p>Jay Minton, who manages several grain elevators in the area for Plains Partners, says about a third of the 2015 harvest there has been sold.</p><p>In the Kingfisher elevator, Senn absently drums his fingers on the folding table as coffee time nears an end. He and his friends say they have extra income from oil and gas wells, so Senn says they haven&#39;t sold any of their 2015 crop.</p><p>&quot;Not a bit. You probably haven&#39;t either? You haven&#39;t either,&quot; he says. &quot;We&#39;re hoping, surely, it&#39;ll make a little spurt before the first of the year. Usually does.&quot;</p><p>Whether the wheat price rallies or not, these men are off to work. Today, they&#39;re spraying weeds and preparing the ground for next year&#39;s crop. Planting starts in less than six weeks.</p><p><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/13/432017353/low-wheat-prices-leave-a-gluten-glut-at-midwests-grain-elevators">NPR News</a></em></p></p> Thu, 13 Aug 2015 08:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/low-wheat-prices-leave-gluten-glut-midwests-grain-elevators-112642 Thai Town opens at last in Albany Park http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/thai-town-opens-last-albany-park-112329 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 10.44.29 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">After four years of delays, chef Arun Sampathavivat finally opened his <a href="http://www.wbez.org/can-arun-sampanthavivat-create-chicago-neighborhood-scratch-108701">Thai Town Center</a>&nbsp;in Albany Park.</p><p dir="ltr">The center is housed in an old police station and features a restaurant, noodle bar, wellness center, and Buddhist shrine. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">On Sunday evening the chef was working the dining room, serving dishes and explaining the long delays.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It has dragged on and on and we ran into dilemmas, one after another, he said. &quot;We almost lost funding in the middle and we had to stop and raise funds again.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The chef who brought upscale Thai food to Chicago with his elegant restaurant Arun says people had been asking him to open a casual place for years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;For the first time people will have accessibility to eat my food and now they can&rsquo;t complain [about price and exclusivity],&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This will appeal to the public with affordable prices and we want to welcome little kids to start them on this kind of food early on.&ldquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Currently only the shrine and the restaurant are open to the public, but Sampathavivat says that he hopes to open the noodle bar in the next month and the wellness center (which will be called Arunati) in 6 to 8 months.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, the chef says he hopes food fans will come and enjoy his Thai cooking. He&#39;s especially proud of his &ldquo;sour curry and stewed pork ham hock.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I could never imagine that an American guest would have a stomach for sour curry,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But [Saturday] after he finished it, he ordered another to take it home. And the ham hock is the very best dish of Thailand. We only cook it a day or two each week and then we rotate.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In 2011, the Thai Town project was awarded more than $1 million in tax increment financing from Ald. Margaret Laurino, who faced criticism for the move. But she defended it saying that she believed it would add value to the neighborhood.</p><p dir="ltr">The chef says he hopes to use the Center to attract national and international visitors to the neighborhood.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/thai-town-opens-last-albany-park-112329 Chicago snow cone vendor ditches artificial syrups http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-snow-cone-vendor-ditches-artificial-syrups-112287 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/17.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some snow cone vendors in Chicago are ditching the traditional rainbow syrups and taking a more organic approach.</p><p>Since the year 2000, Guadalupe Pérez has made a living from his raspas--Mexican snow cones--in the Little Village neighborhood. He says he was one of the first Chicago street vendors to introduce natural fruit nectars to the shaved-ice business.</p><p>&ldquo;It&#39;s natural,&rdquo; Pérez said. &ldquo;It does have sugar, but artificial syrup has chemicals. This doesn&#39;t.&rdquo;</p><p>He says vendors used to just buy gallons of artificial syrup and pre-crush the ice.</p><p>&ldquo;But when people noticed that we were scraping the ice by hand, the cars would slow down and people walking by would stop to watch me,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;That&#39;s how we began getting our customer base.&rdquo;</p><p>Pérez brings his creativity from Veracruz, Mexico, where natural fruit and icy desserts have been sold on the street for centuries.</p><p>His technique is to buy fresh fruit, boil it and reduce it to a sap.</p><p>&ldquo;We have tamarind, strawberry, pineapple, the Mexican berry grosella, vanilla with eggnog--a favorite,&rdquo;&nbsp; Pérez said. &ldquo;Mango, guava, coconut, coffee... plus two artificial flavors because kids still ask for them.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;s noticing more raspa vendors who are adopting his style popping up in the West and Southwest sides. But Pérez doesn&rsquo;t mind the competition. He&rsquo;s expanding his business too.&nbsp; He&rsquo;s setting up raspa carts in other parts of the city.</p><p><em>Interview with Pérez translated from Spanish. </em></p></p> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-snow-cone-vendor-ditches-artificial-syrups-112287 As Whole Foods breaks ground, Englewood residents make their pitch http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whole-foods-breaks-ground-englewood-residents-make-their-pitch-111995 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/wf.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s been more than a year-and-a-half since Whole Foods announced it was setting up shop in Chicago&rsquo;s Englewood neighborhood, and the store&rsquo;s opening is still more than a year away.</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t mean the community is sitting idly by. Residents are actively engaging with Whole Foods about the role of an organic grocery store chain in a food desert at the corner of 63rd and Halsted.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been wonderful. I think that Whole Foods has been very committed to everything going on here,&rdquo; said Glen Fulton, executive director of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, whose office is across the street in a U.S. Bank branch overlooking the construction site.</p><p>When the high-end grocer first announced it was moving to this high-poverty community some Chicagoans were shocked. But the company is trying to shed its elite label &mdash; it says part of its mission is bringing healthy options to areas riddled with junk food.</p><p>Store officials say prices will be competitive and affordable here. They also say Whole Foods is committed to being more than just an anchor tenant on a vacant lot.</p><p>The company first tested this food desert experiment a couple years ago in Detroit. It was the first national grocer to come into the city and so far it&rsquo;s been mostly a success.</p><p>In Englewood, Whole Foods has held community meetings and listened to residents who want classes on nutrition and shopping on a budget.</p><p>Fulton said he went straight to Whole Foods&rsquo; CEO with one request.</p><p>&ldquo;The first thing I wanted was for small businesses to be a part of this whole initiative for this Englewood community. Meaning that I need your support in trying to help them do business with Whole Food,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Fulton is a former director of supplier diversity at Albertsons, another major grocery chain.</p><p>&ldquo;And the second part is that we include diversity as far as diverse suppliers are concerned. So if you&rsquo;re a person of color or a woman, let&rsquo;s break down the barriers&nbsp;of trying to do business with Whole Foods,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rachel Bernier-Green, a black South Sider, attended a free small business workshop series and learned about proper licensing and packaging. She owns &lsquo;Laine&rsquo;s Bake Shop and met a Whole Foods district manager.</p><p>&ldquo;He came out to our table and took the rest of the cookies of his favorite flavor, everything I had on display that day. So I think they enjoyed the texture of the cookies,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>So much so that Whole Foods worked with Bernier-Green to find a distributor.</p><p>Soon her mocha raspberry, citrus spritz and butter pecan bites will be in three Chicago Whole Foods. Next year the desserts will be in the store at 63rd and Halsted.</p><p>&ldquo;I think they were also impressed with the story of our company, why we exist and what we plan to do,&rdquo; Bernier-Green added.</p><p>Her small family-owned business has a social mission: hiring those who have struggled with homelessness as well as the formerly incarcerated. Each year hundreds of parolees with criminal records return to Englewood and can&rsquo;t find work.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to know, Whole Foods, are you going to hire people with records? We had been previously told that hands-down no, they aren&rsquo;t going to hire anybody with records,&rdquo; said Sonya Harper, executive director of Grow Greater Englewood, a food justice group. &ldquo;Whole Foods really heard our concerns as a community and they are now coming up with a program to hire people with records at that store.&rdquo;</p><p>Whole Foods says it wants to partner with social service agencies to increase opportunities for those facing employment barriers.</p><p>Meanwhile, &lsquo;Laine&rsquo;s Bake Shop is the only new confirmed supplier for the Englewood Whole Foods.</p><p>Store officials say more shelf space is available and they hope to develop some brand new businesses in the process.</p><p>There&rsquo;s still time. The next small business workshop series will be this fall.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 07 May 2015 04:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/whole-foods-breaks-ground-englewood-residents-make-their-pitch-111995 Chipotle vs Xoco lunch delivery: Who won? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953 <p><p>Chicago cubicle dwellers who dig sustainable Mexican food got great news recently.</p><p>Both Chipotle and Xoco now have services that will deliver a fresh lunch to your downtown office faster than you can say barbacoa.</p><p>Chipotle is using a service called <a href="https://postmates.com/chicago/spotlight/favorites">Postmates</a> and Xoco is using Uber.</p><p>Postmates already delivered food from a bunch of other Chicago restaurants, but late last week Chipotle announced it was joining forces with them.</p><p>Meanwhile, Uber launched a new feature called Uber Eats in Chicago and New York (after piloting it in Los Angeles).</p><p>This week we tried out both and here&rsquo;s how it went.</p><div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div><script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-video" data-allowfullscreen="true" data-href="/wbez915/videos/vb.13263980999/10153279389781000/?type=1"><div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><blockquote cite="/wbez915/videos/10153279389781000/"><p>Uber launched a new food delivery service in Chicago, after piloting Uber Eats in Lost Angeles. WBEZ&#39;s Monica Eng wanted to compare Uber&#39;s new service, which is featuring XOCO today with Postmates, which delivers Chipotle Mexican Grill. - http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953</p>Posted by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/wbez915">WBEZ</a> on Tuesday, April 28, 2015</blockquote></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Delivery</span></p><p><strong>Monday</strong></p><p><em>1:19 p.m.</em> I&rsquo;m hungry for some Chipotle guacamole so I google Postmates.</p><p><em>1:26</em> I successfully figure out their menu system (they have multiple restaurants and pretty complete menus), register for Postmates, enter my credit card information and request two orders of guacamole.</p><p><em>1:27</em> I get a message that Postmates has found a driver who will be here in about 28 minutes. I contact him to say that we are located in the middle of Navy Pier near the entrance for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.</p><p><em>1:55</em> I see on my computer screen that the bike delivery will be here in 2 minutes.</p><p><em>1:58</em> I am met by a friendly guy on a bike who hands me my bag of guacamole and chips, lets me take picture of him and he rides off.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Food%20delivery%20postmates%20guy.jpg" title="Alex the delivery guy for Postmates, was prompt and cheerful and rode an eco-friendly bike to deliver the guac. (WBEZ/MONICA ENG)" /></div><p><strong>Tuesday</strong></p><p><em>10:58</em> a.m. I get my Uber app ready so I can be the first to order in the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily window.</p><p><em>11:00</em> I can&rsquo;t get Uber Eats to work on my phone from WBEZ in the middle of Navy Pier*. I can see the menu and order but can&rsquo;t find a driver.</p><p><em>*Tuesday afternoon Uber clarified with us that currently the app is not supposed to work East of Lake Shore Drive.</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ubderfoodapp.jpg" style="height: 267px; width: 200px; float: right;" title="Monica orders food from her Uber app. (WBEZ/Tim Akimoff)" /><em>11:10</em> I walk west down Navy Pier and the Uber Eats icon has disappeared from my phone.</p><p><em>11:25</em> I get out to Lake Point Towers and the Uber Eats icon returns to my phone. I order but it won&rsquo;t find a driver.</p><p><em>11:30</em> I walk to Lake Shore Drive and Grand Avenue and the app starts to work. I click on the menu button, order both menu items of the day: a Pepito Torta ($12) and XOCO Salad ($9). I&rsquo;m told a driver will arrive in 5 minutes.</p><p><em>11:38</em> The driver arrives, hands me a hot sandwich and cold salad &mdash; no bag &mdash; and I trot back to the office, thaw out and eat.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Bill</span></p><p><strong>Chipotle through Postmates</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>2 orders guacamole &amp; Chips</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$7</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Service fee (9%)</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>63 cents</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Delivery fee</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$8.25</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Tip</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$1.59</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Discount</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>.26</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Total</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$18.02</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p><strong>XOCO through Uber</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tbody><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Pepito Torta</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$12</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>XOCO Salad</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$9</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Delivery</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$3</p></td></tr><tr><td style="width:319px;"><p>Total</p></td><td style="width:319px;"><p>$25.00</p></td></tr></tbody></table><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Experience</span></p><p>While the Postmates delivery was wildly expensive, I did like that it was delivered by bike (although not always the case), that you can choose from several unique restaurants (think Cemitas Puebla, Le Colonial and Wow Bao) and that you can do it on a computer and keep track of your order history.</p><p>Uber Eats folks told me that the app should work at the end of Navy Pier, but I was not able to get it to work until another two blocks west. While Uber Eat&rsquo;s daily menu is limited to only two items a day, they have some great choices coming up from XOCO, DMK, Freshii and Cemitas. And while their geographic area is limited to River North and the Loop, Uber representatives say they hope to expand it in the future. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">The Verdict</span></p><p>For adventurous budget diners who work in the Loop or River North and can&rsquo;t get away from their desk sometimes, Uber Eats wins for speed and price.</p><p>For out-of-Loop workers who have more cash, time and need for variety, Postmates may be the best choice.</p></p> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 13:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chipotle-vs-xoco-lunch-delivery-who-won-111953 Earth Day: 10 ways to eat greener in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/earth-day-10-ways-eat-greener-chicago-111918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/lane aquaponics.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s Earth Day again. And you can either drown your climate change sorrows in a bag of cookies or be part of the solution by changing your approach to food.</p><p>If you choose to do the latter, you&rsquo;ve got a lot of options in Chicago, where the food scene is getting a little greener all the time.</p><p><strong>Consider these 10 ways to start:</strong></p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Walk, bike or take public transportation to the grocery store. For most of us, the environmental impact of driving there undoes the impact of using paper or cloth bags.<br /><br />2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Perfect a <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-12/features/sc-food-0907-healthful-food-prices-20120912_1_food-dollars-bad-foods-key-nutrients">recipe using rice and lentils or beans</a>. The combo is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to deliver a complete protein to your body. And it can be super delicious.</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Bring your own container to restaurants for leftovers. Health department rules require that you pack the leftovers yourself, but you&rsquo;ll save the food and yourself that pile of plastic containers in your home and garbage can. Some places will even let you use your own container for takeout, but make sure you&rsquo;re not just dumping it from their takeout container to yours.<br /><br />4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Get locally milled grains from places like <a href="http://www.bakermillerchicago.com/">Baker Miller</a> and <a href="http://www.hazzardfreefarm.com/">Hazzard Free Farm</a>. Their nutty taste and relatively high cost mean you will not want to waste a single grain.<br /><br />5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Plan a series of meals based on cleaning out what&rsquo;s in your pantry, fridge and even backyard--lots of wild chives have already sprouted around Chicago.<br /><br />6.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Start a food plant indoors. No matter how small the plant, nurturing it for a season gives you a whole new appreciation for farmers and fresh food.&nbsp;<br /><br />7.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Gather ingredients for a totally local shrimp and greens dinner at The Plant, where they sell house-raised prawns and greens at their <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.plantchicago.com%2Fmonthly-market%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHwIqifQTi20VwcwdrJfiu5avkiVA">Monthly Market</a>, on the first Saturday of each month. Kids at Lane Tech College Prep are learning to perfect this model with a full aquaponics lab that raises tilapia and grows many different kinds of greens.<br /><br />8.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Sign up for a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thelocalbeet.com%2F2015%2F02%2F26%2Fthe-2015-local-beet-list-of-community-support-agriculture-farms-csas%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNE29cMubv5IlQRoZs4Eq70eXvgauQ">CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription</a>, which requires a payment to a local farmer upfront in exchange for regular deliveries of seasonal vegetables throughout the summer and fall.&nbsp;<br /><br />9. Check out Chicago restaurants and stores that emphasize local and sustainable produce. There are too many to single out here. But ask your favorite farmers in the farmers market who buys from them.</p><p>10.&nbsp;&nbsp; Join a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.collectiveresource.us%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNH0o_OVmpM7zP9M97VrZNpOVcY1Jg">composting service</a>, try a <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Furbanext.illinois.edu%2Fcompost%2F&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHrUq0LuaHIxY_DPQPXlkHzsteyhg">backyard compost pile</a> or pressure your elected officials to&nbsp; support municipal composting programs.</p><p>We&rsquo;d love to hear your tips, suggestions and favorite places for sustainable fare around town.</p><p><br />Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fmonicaeng&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGoYzy7NkmnMSoIdG75anzNVCJ90A">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</p></p> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/earth-day-10-ways-eat-greener-chicago-111918 Homaro Cantu was more than a showman http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 <p><p>To a lot of people, the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-famed-chef-homaro-cantu-owner-of-moto-found-dead-on-northwest-side-20150414-story.html">late chef Homaro Cantu</a> was all about showmanship, gadgets and tricks of molecular gastronomy.</p><p>He was famous for edible menus, a fish that would cook itself on your table and fruit that became a carbonated juice box.</p><p>But what a lot of people didn&rsquo;t understand was that this mad scientist chef was about something even bigger: Homaru Cantu&nbsp;wanted to save the&nbsp;world.</p><p>When WBEZ reporters <a href="https://soundcloud.com/chewingthefat/ctf-ep-27-future-food">visited his Moto kitchens last year</a>, we were greeted by typical Cantu. He was playful, warm, articulate and bursting with ideas to make the world a cleaner, healthier more delicious place.</p><p>He showed us his digitally monitored indoor farm that he said could grow produce with astonishing efficiency.</p><p>&ldquo;All of these products are grown to such a precise degree that this stuff will grow 50 percent faster than their genetically modified counterparts in their best season,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And it will all be composted by stuff that comes right from the kitchen.&rdquo;</p><p>He told us about plans to put a beehive on the roof with a path down to the indoor farm, &ldquo;So bees can come down here, then pollinate and leave.&rdquo;</p><p>He explained his strategy for &ldquo;smart composting&rdquo; that would customize the raw composting materials to the plants they&rsquo;d nourish.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_1792.JPG" style="height: 200px; width: 200px; float: left;" title="Chef Homaro Cantu at Moto with kitchen staff and Anthony Bourdain" /></p><p>&ldquo;Plants are like humans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t want the same diet&hellip;. When we start analyzing what plants really want and giving it to them, that&rsquo;s going to get us a more flavorful product, that&rsquo;s going to grow more efficiently without chemicals and genetic modification.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><div>He told us about his many ideas for saving energy and reducing food miles. And he shared his enthusiasm for the potential of the miracle berry (which makes sour things taste sweet) to help diabetics and cancer patients while improving overall public health.</div><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been such a long road,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I think we are at a point where we can educate people about what they should be eating rather than what big companies want them to eat.&rdquo;</p><p>I realized I&rsquo;d had Cantu all wrong. Sure he was great at putting on a show. But his wild restaurants seemed to be just one way to showcase his plans to tackle some of the biggest problems our planet faces today.</p><p>Cantu stressed that, although he was patenting the research, he wanted it to be available to everyone.<br /><br />&ldquo;[After we file the initial patent] we want people to steal from us,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Food should not be owned. Food should be a collective effort for everyone, like open source software.&rdquo;</p><p>Like a lot of people in Chicago, I knew Cantu was facing a lawsuit from a former investor. But the news of his death Tuesday came as a great shock--and the suspected suicide even more so. Of all the chefs I&rsquo;ve known, few have had such ambitious technological plans, such a profound stake in the future and such visionary ideas for making the world a better place.&nbsp;</p><p>His cooking will be missed by diners. His heart and humor missed by his family and friends. But it&rsquo;s almost impossible to say what society will miss with the loss of Cantu&rsquo;s ideas and innovations, which he aimed at helping all of us.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at <a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/homaro-cantu-was-more-showman-111876 Moto chef Homaro Cantu found dead in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/homarocantuted2011.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chef Homaro Cantu has been found dead in Chicago.</p><p>The 38-year-old Cantu was known for blending science and fine dining at his Michelin starred restaurant Moto in the city&#39;s West Loop.</p><p>Authorities say Cantu&#39;s body was found Tuesday in a building where he had planned to open a brewery.</p><p>The Cook County medical examiner&#39;s office confirmed the death but did not release a cause. Authorities did not say his death was suspicious.</p><p>Cantu headed Moto, which focused on molecular gastronomy cuisine. Customers dined on edible menus, carbonated fruit and a fish preparation that cooked in a tabletop polymer box, among other foods.</p><p>Before opening Moto, Cantu spent four years as a chef at Charlie Trotter&#39;s Chicago restaurant. Trotter died in 2013.</p></p> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/moto-chef-homaro-cantu-found-dead-chicago-111875