Washington Business Journal reports that construction on the grocery store is slated to start next month at 3rd and H. The new Giant will be part of the 360 H Street development, which includes 215 apartments, a 1,500-square-foot retail bay, and 270 underground parking spaces. Groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for July 19.
Archive for June 2011
Attention bargain-lovers and pirates: Massive sale on eye patches at the Harris Teeter on 1350 Potomac Ave. SE. Normally priced at $2.19, the eye wear retails currently for 74 cents.
The patch promises to minimize pressure with its concave shape and to remain secure on the head with the help of an elastic band. One size fits all, according to the packaging.
Buzz-buzzing online this week: a grocery store coming to Austin, Tex. claims that it will be completely free of packaging when it opens later this year. In.gredients is a sustainable foodie’s dream—no plastic, no cardboard, no produce bags. Customers bring their own containers and fill them up with everything from eggs to produce to soap. No packaging, no trash.
A nice thought, no? Greater Greater Washington gave the store a small shout-out yesterday in a piece on two possible futures for grocery shopping, and one of in.gredients’ founders, Christian Lane, puts the percent of positive feedback online at “99.95 percent.” But do all of these good vibes translate into a viable model for the grocery industry?
Probably not. Geography and scale will likely affect the future of grocery packaging more than how people feel about the environment, and the idea of “packaging-free” tends to ignore the fact that products are shipped to the store in packages.
JoAnn Hines, a packaging consultant with 35 years of experience in the industry, is intrigued by the idea of a packaging-free store, but she’s skeptical. “It’s an interesting concept,” she says, but “it’s sort of a misnomer because the products have to get to the store in some kind of package.” Just because there are no egg cartons on the shelf doesn’t mean packaging wasn’t involved in getting them there, particularly if the product originated far away. “There’s only certain parts of the country that grow wheat,” Hines explains. “They have to ship it in something.”
- You're sacrificing a lot when you swipe that card. (Photo: TBD Staff)
In an interesting (if somewhat hyperbolic) essay on constitutional rights, Alex Kozinski and Stephanie Grace of The Daily pen a eulogy for the 4th Amendment, our guarantee of freedom from unreasonable search. Cause of death? Supermarket loyalty programs.
The EPA has approved the use of pesticides against the stink bug in Maryland and six other states. The nasty-smelling brown critters pose no threat to humans beyond supreme annoyance, but they have devastated Maryland’s apple crop—some orchards lost up to 40 percent of their crops last year thanks to these foul mini-beasts.
Dinotefuran, currently approved for use in protecting 39 other crops, is now at the disposal of Maryland farmers to fight the brown scourge. The process to get approval for pesticide use can take up to several years, but Maryland’s application for an exemption went through on account of the economic devastation incurred by stink bugs last year. Dennis Howard, manager of the state’s pesticide regulation program, said in a release that the EPA did extensively review the potential risks to consumers or users of the pesticide, and “in this case, all risks were considered negligible.”
The EPA classifies the substance as "Not likely to be carcinogenic to humans." Whew.
The decision to try dinotefuran came after a regional task force found it to be the most effective of 40 different pesticides in a study of stink bugs. Right now the exemption from the EPA lasts just through this growing season, until October 15, so scientists will continue to develop weapons for the fight against these stinky apple-eaters.
D.C.-based Union Meat is selling an unusually high number of whole pigs this summer, company owner Billy Glasgow reports. The Eastern Market vendor always triples its porcine sales in the summer, Glasgow says, but 2011 figures are noticeably up from the 2011 summer season.
Union’s runaway pig business comes on the heels of a number of restaurants, like Poste and Tenpenh, offering pig roasts this summer. Has the pig roast become de rigueur in D.C.? Glasgow guesses that cable cooking shows have emboldened amateur chefs.
“I think more people are getting more adventurous in the way they are cooking,” he suggests. His customers order with confidence—no fumbling around, asking how to cook the pig. “Most seem to know what they’re doing,” he says. A new type of flat, stainless steel cooker box that’s come onto the market also makes it easier for people to roast pigs at home.
For the porcine-inclined, Union Meats usually keeps a few whole pigs in stock at their Eastern Market location. Glasgow suggests giving a few days’ notice before buying your pig, as one never knows when a rush on swine will strike.
Norma Lyon, 81, died Sunday. "The butter cow lady" (a nickname she loved) was the most significant butter sculptor in the U.S. and credited with elevating the craft, which began in the early 1900s at the Iowa State Fair.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Lyon could whip up a 600-pound cow made of butter in just a few days. She began her work in the 1950s after complaining to the Iowa State Fair that its butter cow stunk. Lyon not only carved beautiful bovines out of butter, but also figures inspired by Grant Wood's classic painting "American Gothic" and Norman Rockwell's "The County Agent." Her sculpture of The Last Supper, pictured above, weighed one ton.
Though Lyon retired in 2005, she reentered her studio (a walk-in refrigerator) during the 2008 presidential primary season to create a bust of her favorite candidate, Barack Obama.
When a food-borne illness on the scale of Germany’s is pinned to one vegetable, the lowly bean sprout, one assumes there’s going to be a bean-sprout backlash. Forty-seven people dead, 3,801 people sickened, and new cases cropping up in France and the U.S.—cue the hysteria and the onslaught of experts promising that sprouts are safe! Eat sprouts! Bathe in a pool of sprouts!
But when contacted for reassurance that those alfalfa squigglies on your salad are perfectly safe, experts delivered more bad news.
“I don’t eat sprouts,” says Douglas Powell, professor of food safety at Kansas State University. “It’s one of the few foods I will not eat. I will not eat raw sprouts.”
“Sprouts are more inherently risky than hamburger,” says Bill Marlar, food safety advocate and attorney.
The CDC adds: “Compared with other fresh produce, sprouts pose a special risk. … the elderly, children, and those with compromised immune systems, should not eat raw sprouts.”
Even the president of the International Sprout Growers Association, the very mouthpiece of sprouts, calls them problematic! “It’s a terrible concern to us all,” Bob Sanderson says of the outbreak in Germany. “I will readily admit that sprouts have their share of problems.”
How does a bean-sprout devotee keep this negative publicity, which has been mounting for 15 years, in perspective? How does one measure the anti-sprout fervor against the move against other products, like raw milk? As Powell points out, “There are a lot of foods that will make you sick.” Is it worth cutting sprouts out of your diet?
Get your gluten-intolerant little one to the Whole Foods in Old Town Alexandria ASAP! Children ages 2-6 are decorating gluten-free cookies there right now! Scoot!
Starting today, food retailing in Maryland that claims to be "local" must include signage indicating its state of origin. So that display at the grocery store identifying those tomatoes as "from your backyard" must reveal where that backyard is--same with any fish, meat, eggs, dairy, or produce marketed as "locally grown."
The move comes after customer complaints over mislabeling and a recent survey that showed Marylanders are more likely to buy produce that's grown by a Maryland farmer. Mark Powell of the state's agriculture department told TBD in May that after some initial resistance from retailers, the measure went through without opposition.
The Forest City development announced this morning that Harris Teeter, long rumored to be coming to the Yards, is indeed setting up shop at 410 M St. SE.
The Yards, a mixed-use development near Nationals Park in the Capitol Riverfront, is also slated to host a Potbelly, Kruba Thai Sushi, a Buzz Bakery, a craft brewery, and a 24-hour diner. Early this year, Washington Business Journal called the Yards one of five projects that will transform Washington. We’ll be watching to see how HT’s moderately priced store brands and quality cheese samples transform the District.
After several years of waiting, Columbia Pike residents rejoiced at last night's Giant opening at the corner of Columbia Pike and Barton. Shoppers enjoyed free cheese samples, hot dogs, and wine before witnessing the cutting of a mighty short ribbon.
The opening is part of Giant's three-year plan to renovate every store in its chain.
For the indecisive fruit-eater, a pluot presents an obvious solution. When one cannot decide between the pulpy purpleness of a plum or the orange orb of an apricot, one can always reach for the pluot, a trademarked hybrid of the two fruits developed in the 1980s by lifelong stone-fruit breeder Floyd Zaiger.
But the math behind the pluot complicates this too-easy answer to fruit indecision. The golf-ball sized red inventions are not simply half apricot and half plum. When Zaiger performed his plant magic, he bred, not a plum and an apricot, but an apricot and a plumcot—itself a crossbreed of an apricot and a plum performed by Luther Burbank. Thus the parentage of the pluot could not be delineated as a simple 50/50 split, but with a ratio of 3/5 plum and 2/5 apricot.
But that was in the 1980s, a time of simpler fractions. Today, due to frequent crossbreeds and back crosses in the hunt for improved flavor and adaptability, the ratios are impossible to pinpoint. Leith Gardner, daughter of Floyd Zaiger and a fruit engineer herself, puts the lineage at 9/16 plum and 7/16 apricot, though even that’s not right because “now we’re even putting some peach into them.”
- Photo courtesy of Osiris Hoil.
The saga of District Taco’s tipped truck this morning, first reported by ARLNow, continues. According to District Taco owner Osiris Hoil, the truck was on its way to Crystal City when the tow hitch broke around 7:30am.
“It happened just right there on Lynn Street and Lee Highway,” Hoil says, “and somehow, the truck just tipped over. It didn’t go forward or to the sides. We’re amazed that that happened.”
The truck suffered some exterior damage. Hoil is on his way to Home Depot now for some materials to aid in the repair, and his guys are working on the interior of the truck, which is named El Torito ("little bull").
“He’s full of guacamole right now,” Hoil says sadly. “And beans and rice.”
Hoil hopes to have El Torito up and running tomorrow, provided the gas lines are ok. “It looks like we’re going to be ok,” he says. “We got super duper lucky. We didn’t hurt anybody.” Hoil remains upset that his toppled truck caused major morning traffic and, of course, “that Crystal City didn’t get their tacos.”
For one hour only today, Ramon Martinez of Jaleo will be serving up samples of cherry gazpacho at the Penn Quarter Farmers Market. Martinez says gazpacho, traditionally made with tomatoes, lends itself well to in-season cherries. He'll be making the dish at the market and serving samples while they last from 4-5. Market lasts from 3-7 and is located on 8th St. NW, between D and E.
The tiny, exquisite corner store on East Capitol on Capitol Hill probably says something about gentrification. P&C Market arrived on the scene two years ago and, with its stamped tin ceiling and selection of black truffle butter, stands in sharp relief from its corner-store counterparts, whose wares run more toward beer, milk, and Ramen. But the Market Report doesn’t want to talk about gentrification. The Market Report wants to talk about toasted walnut lentil pate.
The cleverly named Faux Gras, made by the Regal Vegan in Brooklyn, can only be found in one store outside of New York City—P&C. Ella Nemcova of Regal Vegan says it was a “pleasant surprise” to get a call from a D.C. merchant looking to sell their vegan pate, the first inquiry the company had had from outside New York. Nemcova says P&C orders a case a week, typical for other small gourmet shops she works with.
Brett H. Freeman, P&C’s food buyer, prides himself on stocking the market with items not available elsewhere (“We do have Diet Coke,” he admits). There’s the elaborate cheeses (cow from Vermont and Switzerland; sheep from Holland and Spain; goat from France), the craft beers, the line of French honeys, the whole-shelled Maine mussels, and the imported Italian pasta. A T-bone steak retails for $47.99. Miso paste can be had for $8.49. The store’s most expensive food item, canned Spanish seafood, sells for $80+.
In fact, they can be quite pretty. The Wall Street Journal reports that small companies and a few bigger ones are trying out barcode designs featuring famous buildings, pinstriped pants, and bubbles rather than the plain old black lines.
A few design firms specialize in barcode art, like Design Barcodes Inc. of Tokyo and Vanity Barcodes LLC in New Jersey. Sixpoint Brewery is one of the companies tinkering with its barcodes in an effort to make its beer cans more attractive. “You need this big, ugly barcode so people can scan them,” Sixpoint parent company president Shane Welch told the Journal. “I thought, why can’t we do our own custom barcode?”
A few larger companies are exploring custom barcodes, like Nestle (its Juicy Juice Sparkling Fruit Juice Beverage has bubbles rising from its barcode) and Bear Naked (the Kellogg-owned entity turned its barcode lines into blades of wheat). Duane Reade liked the concept of vanity barcodes so much it added barcode designs featuring the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge to its store-brand packages—even though they aren’t actually functioning, scanable barcodes.
The Journal’s beautiful slideshow of barcode design can found here.
Big news from Kraft Foods this week: one of its brands, Tang, reached the $1 billion mark in annual revenues. Not only does this make Tang just the 12th Kraft brand to reach this milestone, but it also represents a doubling of sales of the powdered drink from the last four years.
How’d you do it, Tang? Infiltrate the lemonade stand market? Pass out samples at Harris Teeter? Absolutely not. My local Harris Teeter, along with most every other grocer in my Capitol Hill neighborhood, doesn’t sell Tang. I looked. I called. No Tang. The more corner stores I ducked into searching for some of the orange powder, the more desperate I became for a sip of that childhood staple.
So where is the Tang? Who is buying that drink of the astronauts? Not Americans. U.S. Tang revenues account for just five percent of Tang’s worldwide sales. According to Lisa Gibbons, who provided the figure, Kraft has focused more on brands like Crystal Light and Kool-Aid in the U.S.; Tang sales are much stronger in the Latin American market.
If you have purchased a round plastic container of herring in salt water with Russian words on it, you might be in possession of uneviscerated fish. TGF is recalling the product after the New York State Food Laboratory found that it might be contaminated with spores that cause botulism, a potentially fatal food-borne illness. No illnesses have been reported yet (symptoms include blurred or double vision, weakness, poor reflexes, trouble swallowing, and respiratory paralysis) but customers are urged not to eat their herring fish in salt water. Look for code number 20.02.11 PVI44AMIC2 to confirm your your fish is uneviscerated.
- They want your produce. (Photo: Associated Press)
Today marks the start of summer, and summer means fruit flies. For those of us who are less conscientious about tossing the bananas out when the brown constellation of spots turns into a brown galaxy, we’ve been seeing them already—those little flitting insects that seem to serve no purpose except to annoy you and gross you out by landing on your five-day-old cantaloupe. But there’s more to know about the fruit fly. A sample of fruit-fly facts, courtesy of Virginia Tech entomologist Eric Day.
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