Taco Bell

Fast Food Permeates the South

The South has a culinary tradition so rich that without it the sum of “American Cuisine” would be little more than turkey and genetically modified corn.  That is why I was so disturbed by a recent piece by Zagat entitled 40 Fast-Food Capitals.  The gist of the article was to find the 40 most fast food dominated cities and it is not a list anyone should ever want to be on.  Sadly, seven of the top 10 cities and half of the list are in the South.  Even worse ten of the 40 are in the five states that constitute the Third Coast.

I can understand a high concentration of fast food establishments in locals that depend on tourism so Orlando, Miami and Tampa you get a pass.  Jacksonville, not so fast.  Shame also cloaks the Texas cities of Lubbock, Plano and Houston.  In Alabama, Birmingham (#10) and Montgomery (#15) as well as Baton Rouge, LA (#7) also bring a dishonor to themselves.  Congratulations to Mississippi who didn’t have a single city scratch the list, the same for tourist heavy New Orleans and Mobile.

As a resident of Alabama I have taken great pride in the back-to-back football national championships and Heisman Trophy winners won by the student athletes at the University of Alabama (2009) and Auburn University (2010).  But I am equally embarrassed that Birmingham and Montgomery are in the top 15.  In Birmingham there are 73 fast food “restaurants” for every 100,000 residents and Montgomery has 62 per 100K.

This is so disheartening to me.  America, and the Third Coast especially, have no reason to be in such a hurry.  20% of us don’t even have jobs so clearly we have time to make a sandwich.  I am not saying that we abandon them altogether but we must exercise moderation.  We owe ourselves better.

It’s hard to see the draw of fast food anymore.  The two things fast food offered – speed and convenience – went away decades ago.  As has actual food at many of them.  Taco Bell was recently under fire for using unapproved genetically modified material in their taco shells and for only having 80% beef in their 100% beef taco filling.  Well Taco Bell has admitted 80% but independent labs have found that the number is closer to 36%.  Virtually everything you buy at McDonald’s and Burger King is more corn than whatever they call it – according to The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan it was revealed that the Chicken McNugget is actually 56% genetically modified corn.

And just so you know, genetically modified corn is not real corn.  GM corn has proven to be the source of two decades worth of e coli outbreaks.  GM corn, in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), is also the root cause of the nation’s obesity epidemic as well as the increase in liver disease, pancreatic cancer and type 2 diabetes.  In this era of corrupt government it should come as no surprise that Monsanto, the company that invented GM corn, has purchased itself a rather large office space in Washington – they call it the USDA.

Think about that the next time you duck into the drive-thru.  I’m not saying don’t order, just think about it.  Here’s another short video from our pals Burger and Soda:

Taco Bell Recalls GMO Taco Shell

Taco Bell Gmo CornFor the first time since untested genetically modified foods first invaded our food system back during the 1970’s a GMO product is being recalled.  Kraft Foods Inc. is recalling Taco Bell Home Originals brand taco shells from US supermarkets specifically because of its GMO content.

President Jimmy Carter was the first to compromise the nation’s health in exchange for a truckload of the money that Big Ag companies like Monsanto throw around.  When Monsanto first approached the FDA about it’s Round-up resistant corn the FDA correctly King Corn Documentarydetermined that a good 20 years of research was necessary before allowing it into the nation’s food system.

After a few calls to the White House it was “agreed” that testing wasn’t so necessary after all.  The result has been a meteoric rise in diabetes, obesity and pancreatic cancer.  Nice job, President Carter.

The problem with the Taco Bell shells is that they contain a strain of GM corn that has not been approved by the FDA. Now on the surface one would have to think that if the FDA hasn’t approved this GMO corn then it must be really bad especially since history has proven the FDA and USDA will approve just about anything for the right amount of money.  Take high fructose corn syrup for example.

The discrepancy in the taco shells was discovered by the Friends of the Earth (FOE) which proves the adage even a blind dog finds a bone now and then.  They stumbled on a report from an independent lab which indicated an unapproved GMO called StarLink manufactured by Big Ag company Aventis was used even though the FDA has not approved it for human consumption because it is not heat-stable, is resistant to stomach acids and enzymes and potentially causes severe allergic reactions.

FOE is one of those stereotypical environmental groups that care about tax free donations far more than they care about actually protecting the environment.  You can tell this because they still haven’t removed their Global Warming section from their site proving their disconnect from reality.  Admittedly the link for Global Warming is a bit hard to find because of the deluge of buttons begging for donations.  But kudos to FOE for happening upon this issue.

Climategate the Crutape LettersWith the exception of FOE, the entire world knows the Global Warming Hoax was exposed in 2009 when tens of thousands of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at England’s University of East Anglia were leaked.  The correspondences revealed that the leading climate scientists have been purposefully fabricating, suppressing and misstating scientific data to perpetuate the Climate Change myth.  Since then Global Warming has been completely debunked and the scientists that colluded on it have admitted to their part in the worst scientific scandal of our generation.

I think it is important to point out that these are not necessarily the same shells that Taco Bell sells at their fast food stores but rather the ones Kraft markets for home use under the Taco Bell name.  Now the repercussions of the Taco Bell GMO corn recall could prove good for America as a whole since it will continue to flame the fire of discontent most people feel about these dangerous frankenfoods.  We don’t need to ban them, per se, but foods that contain them should be labeled so that people can make an informed decision.  But the Big Ag groups and their lap dogs in the Obama administration, the FDA and USDA have fought labeling GMO’s which begs the question, “What are they trying to hide?”

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up

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