Author Archives: Amber Coleman

Farm

Where to Get in on the Farm-to-Fork Trend

Back in September of 1992, the Organic Trade Association started “Organic Harvest Month™” to promote the use of “organic food and agriculture through regional and local events,” laying down the path for what would eventually become the  Farm-to-Fork movement.   More recently the United States Department of Agriculture brought the Farm-to-Fork movement to the forefront by starting the “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” program as a “commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems.”

FarmThe main interest for both of these programs lies in something that is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in food, Farm-to-Fork (also sometimes referred to as Farm-to-Table).   This trend is basically defined as food coming directly from a local source.  A hundred years ago this local sourcing of  food was commonplace.   However, as more people moved away from farms and into cities, the ritual of obtaining food became something most often done within the walls of a grocery store where produce, meats and other products usually come from different states and even occasionally another country.   But within the last few decades, many people have started going back to the Farm-to-Fork way of eating both to ensure fresher (often organic) foods and to help their local farmers.

As the summer comes to an end, many Farm-to-Fork events are popping up all over the country to help get the word out about the movement.  We’ve found a few of the annual Farm-to-Fork festivals around the U.S. that may just inspire you to take the leap and join in on the trend.

Festival:  Farm to Fork Events
Where:  Oregon
When:  Various dates from June to October
What:  Every few weeks a dinner is hosted on a local Oregon farm.  Each dinner features one local winery, a producer and/or chef to create the meal from the farm’s harvest and even live music from local bands.   During the event guests are provided with a tour of the host-farm, a meal and information on the meal’s elements and any non-profit partners involved.  This year there was also a 4-day Farm to Fork Rafting adventure down Oregon’s Rogue River.

Festival:  Farm to Fork Food Invasion
Where: Alabama
When:  Dates vary from year to year.  In 2011, it will be held November 11th and 12th.
What: This two day event is put on by the Hampstead Institute, a non-profit dedicated to sustainable living and growing a healthier community.   The first night consists of a 35-seat, Farm-to-Fork Dinner.  The second day is a Farm-to-Fork festival with live music, food and drink tastings wrapping up with a pig roast.

And just in case you can’t make it to one of these festivals, we’ve also found five great restaurants across the U.S. that follow the movement and are open year-around.

1)      The Inn at Red Hills in Dundee, Oregon
2)      Husk in Charleston, South Carolina
3)      Station 220 in Bloomington, Illinois
4)      Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland
5)      Route 7 Grill in Great Barrington, Massachusetts

For more information on the benefits of the Farm-to-Fork movement or the “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” program be sure to visit Food Insight.

Central’s Week in Brief: September 9, 2011

restaurantEvery Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1)      Zagat, the worldwide restaurant guide, has had a pretty big week.  First, they released their annual National Fast Food Restaurant Survey which covered 103 different chains.  The 6,064 diners surveyed named Subway as the top Mega Chain, Five Guys as best Large Chain and Starbucks as the number one Quick Refreshment.   Click here for a more comprehensive list of the survey results. 

After releasing the survey, it was then announced that the company was being bought out by web giant Google.  Zagat founders, Nina and Tim Zagat, plan to stay on to help with the guide’s expansion and  assist Google in connecting more easily with local businesses.

2)      Like Google, Dominos Pizza is also looking to expand its reach…all the way to the moon.  The Japanese arm of the pizza chain announced that they are planning to build a base on the moon which will cost about $21 billion for construction, transportation and equipment.  The goal of the base is to be available for those who may one day be working and eventually living on the moon.   However, there is no actual date for when the project will begin.

3)      With a rise in popularity, ultimately there will be a backlash.  The current food truck trend is no exception to this rule.  Food trucks all over the country have been running into regulations and lawsuits over everything from proximity to tax issues.  This is where Bert Gall comes in to save the day.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “A senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, Gall directs the institute’s National Street Vending Initiative, which bills itself as ‘a nationwide effort to vindicate the right of street vendors to earn an honest living by fighting unconstitutional vending restrictions in courts of law and the court of public opinion’.”  So if your food truck is in trouble, Bert Gall is the man to have on your side.

4)      This month is the 17th Annual National Food Safety Education Month (NFSEM).  NFSEM encourages a focus on food safety education and training within the foodservice industry.  This year, there will be free weekly training sessions, tips and downloads all available at www.ServSafe.com/nfsem.   According to the NRA Show site, “All NFSEM materials are based on the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe® food safety training and certification program.”

5)      September is also Hunger Action Month which was launched by Feeding America.  The point of Hunger Action Month is to raise awareness of hunger relief throughout the world and encourage the public to step into action to eliminate it domestically.   By visiting the Hunger Action Month site, you can find local events and food banks, see where the highest rate of hunger is in your state and even watch videos like the one below.

Central’s 20 Year Club

On Thursday, August 18, five Central employees were the first to be inducted into The 20 Year Club.  This club was created to recognize those employees among us that have provided exemplary service over their 20 or more years at Central.   The members were honored with their pictures placed in the main lobby of Central as well as a special gift of appreciation.  In addition, we would like to recognize them by allowing them to share just what those 20 plus years have meant to them as well as each of their unique gifts.   Below we give you the five inductees:

 

                          Steve White 

Hired: 7/10/1975
Years at Central:
36
What Steve Does at Central:  “I’ve done a little of everything with the company from cleaning to shipping to my current position in sales.  In my time here I’ve met a lot of people, made a lot of friends and seen many restaurants go in and out.”
Steve’s Thoughts on Central:  “I started here because of my bond with Rick and Rita (previous owners), starting at their previous company, moving to Central when they opened and just continued on with them.  I’ve stayed here because I’ve learned working here you really have to enjoy people and listening, talking and interacting with them and those are things I love to do.”

 

                     Sheila Greenwald  

Hired: 6/1/1987
Years at Central:
24
What Sheila Does at Central:  “I have worked in many areas during my years: accounts payable, accounts receivable, customer service, opening mail, buying company supplies, reception and I even packed boxes for shipping when we were really busy. I even made lunch for the sales staff during busy times. I now deal with Freight Claims.”
Sheila’s Thoughts on Central:
“Central has always been like family looking out for one another, helping where and when it was needed. As the past payroll and benefits person I got to know the employees very well and tried hard to help them through trying times. Central has grown in the 23 years since I started we are a national known company and that makes me very proud to be a part of this company.”

 

                         Bill Teets

Hired: 10/30/1989
Years at Central:
21
What Bill Does at Central:  “I’ve been on the warehouse staff since day number one.  Despite some bumps in the road it has been a great ride!”
Bill’s Thoughts on Central:  “It’s been great seeing the company grow from 14 employees to 120 and 30 orders a day to as high as 500.   I love that no two days here are alike, the challenge of the ‘afternoon rush’ and the opportunity work with many
different personalities throughout the operation. ”

 

                       Bob Davidson 

Hired: 7/5/1990
Years at Central:
21
What Bob Does at Central:  Bob works hard in sales helping serve customers ranging from mom and pop operations to government operations.
Bob’s thoughts on Central and being here 20 years: “I just want to thank Rick and Rita for the opportunity for letting me come to work for Central and to my fellow 20 Year Club members for helping me along the way.   I also appreciate Central’s current leadership for carrying on the Central tradition!  Here’s to 20 more!”

                    

                        Rick Arenstein

Hired: 6/19/1991
Years with Central: 20
What Rick Does at Central: Rick has been a dedicated product consultant, not only working hard with customers from selling equipment to restaurant layout, but also by assisting Central with new policies, changes and more.
Rick’s thoughts on Central:  “20 years have gone by very quickly.  In 1991, we had 20 employees.  With five salesmen, we did in a year less than we did last month, August, 2011, and we only mailed out two catalogs a year.  We wrote the orders down manually and they were entered into the computer as orders later in the day.  We did not have AutoCad (design software) either, so all the layouts were done manually, with any changes having to be erased and started over.”

Congratulations again to all of the inductees to The 20 Year Club and thank you for all of your hard work!

Eggs

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Eggs

When it comes to dietary allergies, eggs may be one of the most restrictive.   There are so many items that obviously contain eggs like most desserts/baked goods and noodles, but there are just as many, if not more foods that use eggs in a more veiled way.   Luckily, while eggs are harder to avoid than other food allergens, it does occur a little less often.  According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, “Egg allergy is estimated to affect approximately 1.5% of young children.”  The good news is that on average it is an allergy that can and will be outgrown.  However, it’s still smart to know what to avoid and the risks that an egg allergy presents.

EggsHow do egg allergies develop and can they be prevented?

Like most allergies, egg allergies are the body’s immune system attacking an element that it thinks is invading, in this case the egg protein.  According to the Mayo Clinic these attacks can manifest in symptoms including: Skin inflammation (most common), asthma, nasal inflammation, stomach issues and in severe cases anaphylaxis.  The reason for this allergy can range from a family history of the allergy and most often the immaturity of the digestive system, which is why the allergy shows up in children, but can be outgrown.  The Mayo Clinic continues to say those that suffer from this particular allergy are also more likely to suffer from other health problems as well.  These problems include other food allergies, hay fever, atopic dermatitis and allergic asthma.

As said before, many children do outgrow the allergy as their digestive system develops.  Kids Health says that an, “Egg allergy usually first appears when kids are very young, and most kids outgrow it by the time they’re 5 years old.”  However, it’s important to know that this is not always the case.   Allergic Child reported on a recent research study done on this topic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.   According to the study, “In what are believed to be the largest studies to date of children with milk and egg allergies, researchers followed more than 800 patients with milk allergy and nearly 900 with egg allergy over 13 years, finding that, contrary to popular belief, most of these allergies persist well into the school years and beyond.”

There has also been work done to help to actually prevent the allergy from appearing in the first place.  The study presented in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggested introducing eggs to a baby’s diet between the ages of four to six months.  While it’s not conclusive whether or not it actually prevents the allergy, it has been found that it at least does not increase its development.

What should be avoided?

With every food allergy, it’s essential to be aware of what a dish or product contains by reading labels and asking questions.  With eggs it’s also imperative to know the names of items that are egg related yet are not just simply called eggs.  The Mayo Clinic list these terms as the following: Albumin, Globulin, Lecithin, Livetin, Lysozyme, Simplesse, Vitellin, and words starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin.  It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid certain foods in general, unless they are specifically noted as not containing eggs.  Some of these items are anything made with a mix or batter, mayonnaise and items that include this ingredient, marshmallows, salad dressings and most baked goods and pastries.   It’s also wise to avoid drinks like beer, lattes and cappuccinos that use eggs in foaming agents, anything glazed and even many shampoos which use egg proteins for strengthening.  A final item that might not be as obvious is the vaccine for the flu.  The reason behind this according to the Center for Disease Control is that the vaccines are grown on egg embryos, which means they’ve been mixed with proteins from the egg itself.  However, with this item it’s important to talk with your health service provider before making a decision as they will be able to tell you if your allergy is or isn’t severe enough to cause a reaction to the small amount of protein.

Egg alternatives and eating on the go

While there are some specific alternatives to cooking with eggs like Egg Replacer by Ener-G, there are also many items that you may currently have in your house that can be used in place of eggs as well.  PETA provides many detailed options on how and what to use to substitute for egg use.  Similarly, you can try these great options compiled by Calorie Lab:

1 gelatin packet, 2 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 1 tbsp. liquid (such as water)
1 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 tbsp. oil, 1 1/2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. yeast, 1/4 cup warm water
1/2 of a medium-sized mashed banana
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp. warm water
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp. xanthan gum
In place of an egg wash, use melted margarine.
*Note:  It is important to know that these alternatives may not turn out well when a recipe calls for more than three eggs though.

When eating out with food allergies of any kind, Eating With Food Allergies advises that it’s helpful to either eat earlier or later than the normal crowds (i.e. before 6 PM or after 9 PM).   Doing so will help in allowing you to get more attentive service both at the table and in the kitchen.  Another handy item to remember when venturing out to eat is a Kids Health great cutout for your wallet that lists different foods and ingredients to avoid.  In addition to this cutout, checking sites like Special Gourmets can assist you in making decisions on the most appropriate place to eat.  The search engine bills itself as, “The largest global guide to restaurants, shops & hotels with options for gluten-free, dairy-free & other allergen-free diets.”   Not only is this guide helpful when looking for new places to try or when out of town, but it’s also handy when your or others you’re with are allergic to more than one item since it allows you to check off multiple items for your search.

While you’re out, the most reliable dining option would be to find a specifically Vegan venue.  These restaurants are always a great option for those with egg allergies because Vegans do not eat products that come from animals like eggs and the food is unlikely to suffer from cross-contamination as well.  Unfortunately, Vegan based dining options can be few and far between.  If you’re on the go and looking for an often occurring fast option, check out Taco Bell and Dairy Queen.  Taco Bell is a helpful option because most items do not contain egg products and since most items that do contain them are not necessarily created on-site, the risk for cross-contamination is lowered a bit.  As for Dairy Queen, there are some great options for you to get your ice cream fix.  However, even on their website they do warn of cross-contamination possibilities and encourage getting an ingredient listing from that specific restaurant for extra safety.   For a sit-down experience, On the Border provides a viable egg free option.  Most items there can be enjoyed normally since most of them don’t use eggs, but often require requesting the item without sauce and/or sour cream.

Delicious egg free recipes to try at home

Oven Baked Eggless Zucchini Fries from Eggless Cooking

Sweet Potato Biscuits from The Sensitive Pantry

How do you or your family members deal with being Egg Free?  Please share your story. 

Soda

Central’s Week in Brief: August 26, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Soda1)      The U.S. Department of Agriculture said no to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the purchase of soda and other sugary drinks using food stamps.    According to CBS News, “The ban would have applied to any sweetened beverage that contains more than 10 calories per eight ounces.”  The proposal was turned down due to issues like  the time it may take to decide what would or wouldn’t qualify and that it might make those using the stamps feel stigmatized.

2)      Once known for his affinity for fatty foods like McDonald’s hamburgers, former president Bill Clinton has decided to go vegan.  USA Today reported that Clinton, “…is following this eating plan to improve his heart health.”  The former president has had surgery on his heart twice since 2004.  For more information on living the vegan lifestyle, check out our post on vegan and vegetarianism.

3)      Morton’s The Steakhouse took customer service to the next level using social media.  After Peter Shankman, a public relations professional, tweeted about wanting a steak dinner, a Morton’s staff member actually met him at the airport with a 24-ounce Porterhouse steak, Colossal Shrimp and potatoes.  Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Morton’s, Roger Drake, told Smart Blog on Restaurants, “These things don’t happen unless it’s part of your culture, and that is really what Morton’s is all about: noticing little details, making it a memorable dining experience and wowing our guests.”  It also doesn’t hurt business that all of Morton’s and Shankman’s Twitter followers witnessed this act of kindness.

4)       A report done by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that the amount of U.S. farmers markets has almost tripled within the last decade.  According to an article on Triple Pundit the markets went from, “2,863 in 2000 to 6,132 in 2010 and over 100,000 farmers are selling their products to customers directly.”   This boom of markets has help to boost local economies, but the report’s author, Jeffrey O’Hara, believes that if more government assistance  were provided to these types of farming practices instead of more industrial farms, it could generate “tens of thousands of new jobs.”

5)    With a new school year comes a new, healthier menu for 480 school districts being provided with food by the Sodexo company.  In order to help the fight against obesity and expand the tastes of students, Sodexo will now offer items like Mediterranean Lentil Soup and Tropical Vegetable Tofu.  According to a press release, “Sodexo’s team of culinary experts, including chefs at school districts nationwide, developed recipes that entice students and meet USDA’s National School Lunch Program guidelines.”  

If you’d like to try out a version of the Mediterranean Lentil Soup, check out this version from Epicurious.

Menu

Calorie Labeling on Menus: What is it and how will it work?

In today’s society with everyone constantly on the go, it isn’t uncommon for many people to eat at a restaurant several times a week.  Along with an increase in restaurant visits has come an overall increase in the occurrence of obesity.  To help combat this issue, restaurants have begun offering healthier options and as part of the health care reform bill, they will soon also be required to post calorie counts.  With this upcoming requirement, restaurants now need to know what has to happen on their part.  Along with that, it’s important to know whether or not the actual concept can be successful in  helping patrons make a more educated decision at their favorite restaurants.

MenuWhat Does a Restaurant Have to Do Under This New Law?*

If a restaurant chain has 20 or more locations, they will be required to begin posting calories counts on the menu in 2012.  Restaurants that don’t necessarily meet this requirement, but would like to participate are allowed to do so as long as they follow the same guidelines.  From there, the menu labeling begins.  The first requirement is similar to that of the labeling currently on the pre-packaged items that we’re all used to, which is to include the following somewhere on the menu: “A 2,000 calorie daily diet is used as the basis for general nutrition advice; however, individual needs may vary.”  This information has to be the same size as any calorie information and placed at the bottom or top of the menu.  In addition, it is necessary is to post that other nutritional information is available upon request, using the same sizing rules.

With fine print covered, it’s important to then know the requirements for the actual calorie information.  The must-do items are that the calorie information has to have a contrasting background from other items, it cannot be smaller than the price and/or name of the item (whichever is smallest) and the information has to reside in an area labeled as Cal or Calories.  It’s also required to follow the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act rules for rounding calories on the menu (see the FDA site for a technical version or FoodCalc for a more basic model). 

While these rules are pretty basic there are a few extras to remember as well.  One is that no matter how big the portion (if it’s meant for a single person or meant to share), the total calories for the dish must be reported.  Second, is that in an atmosphere like a buffet, the calories are to be calculated using the scoop or piece size.   Finally, for items like combo meals where choices are available a range of calories for the choices should be listed.

Once these rules have been followed, it’s also good to know what the exceptions are.   One of the big ones is that temporary menu items (defined as an item that is on the menu for less than 60 continuous days) and test menu items (defined as an item being tested and on the menu for less than 90 days) are not required to have calories posted.  Another exception is that custom orders do not require any labeling since they are made to special requirements specified by the guest.  Other items that do not require this labeling are alcoholic drinks and condiments.

Will This Menu Addition Create a Change in How People Eat?    

With this new law effecting a huge amount of restaurant locations by adding on additional work, financial investment and even possibly having to rework menu items to bring down the calorie counts, will it all be worth it?   Many are not so sure that by simply posting numbers, patrons will totally change their decisions on what to choose the next time they are out.  While others think it’s definitely a step in the right direction.  So far many studies and experiments have been done to find an answer, but the conclusions still aren’t exactly clear cut.

Some people believe that by just putting the information out there for public consumption it will begin to make a difference.  In an article on the Kaiser Health News site, Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said, “For nearly 20 years, consumers have benefitted from nutrition labels on packaged foods, but have remained in the dark about the nutritional quality of their restaurant meals, the passage of menu labeling closes this glaring loophole.”   Similarly, Lorien Urban, a nutrition researcher at Tufts University, said on Reuters Health, “We think labeling of all foods is going to be helpful, because people are eating a lot more calories than they think.” 

However, there are others that think that this information alone may not really make a difference due to a lack of truly understanding what calories really mean to their health.  In the same Kaiser Health News article, executive director of the American Public Health Association, Georges Benjamin, stated that he believes that while the tool is there, people must also be educated in order to understand how calories translate into weight gain and possibly even obesity.  He compares this to the long term education of the public on the hazards of cigarettes versus simply putting a warning on packages.

Still one study does show hope that reading the calories really can make an impression on a customer’s final choice.  According to the LA Times, “A British Medical Journal study released last month found that menu labeling made a difference of 106 calories, on average, in what more than 8,000 people ordered at New York fast-food restaurants — but only among the 15% who said they saw or used the information.”   This study does show that seeing what the amount of calories are does help influence decisions and helps patrons cut back.  However, like Benjamin’s thoughts above, it brings up the issue that not everyone will actually pay attention to, notice or even understand this new available information.

Due to this possible lack of education on calories and the chance to not even notice their new place on menus, in an article in The New York Times, Richard Williams, retired member of the Center for Food Safety and applied Nutrition at the FDA, suggests a more user friendly alternative.   Williams feels that instead of simply focusing on calories and how too many could be harmful, that a symbol system be used to know if a food is a healthy choice overall.  Williams’ approach is that it’s more important to know what is the healthier option, not just which option is higher in calories, since this focus could essentially lead to lower calorie intake but higher intake in other not-so-healthy areas like fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates.

So what is the solution?  For now, the restaurants will need to begin working on getting calorie counts added to their menu for the 2012 deadline.  Will that make a big difference in the rate of obesity in the U.S.?   That will no doubt be studied over time and eventually lead to a more widespread labeling practice or spark an outcry for a better system.  Only time will tell how well just presenting calories will work for the ever-growing population.

 Will this new addition of calories on menus influence your choices?  Why or why not?  Please share your answer in our comment section below.

*All information in this section comes from the FoodCalc.com National Menu Labeling Law White Paper

 

5 Incredible Fair Foods and Where to Enjoy them Year Around

FairFarm animals, frighteningly dangerous rides, scorching heat and of course pounds upon pounds of delicious deep-fried food, can only mean one thing.  It’s Fair time again!   Whether the shindig is put on by your state, county or town, they are virtually all the same.  Browse through to see your area’s biggest animal, stuff yourself with this year’s newest calorie packed delicacy and maybe top it off with a ride on the tilt-o-whirl.   For the majority of the year this may sound like some strange foreign ritual, but around this time people show up in droves at fairgrounds across the nation to do just that.  Keeping this in mind, Central has created a guide to the top 5 strange yet deliciously irresitable foods you may want to try while visiting your local fairgrounds this year.  And as if that weren’t enough, we’ve even found a few restaurants where you can get your fix year around.

1)       Deep Fried Butter

Yes, you read that right.  But thankfully, it’s not just exactly what it sounds like, because of course that would be a melted mess.  Instead it’s more a glob of butter, surrounded by dough, deep fried and covered with items like sugar and cinnamon or powdered sugar.

2)      Hot Beef Sundae

This is one of the few, non-fried items on the list, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s healthy.  According to Delish this dish consists of, “…a generous helping of buttery mashed potatoes surrounded by slow-roasted roast beef and gravy, sprinkled with Cheddar cheese, and garnished with a cherry tomato.”   At least the tomato is healthy?

3)      Fried Margarita

While this one isn’t exactly available to everyone (including Indiana’s fairgoers due to its alcohol ban), it is one of the more interesting fried fares.   An Eater article says that this concoction is, “…funnel cake batter mixed with margarita, fried, drenched in additional margarita, and topped with whipped cream in a salt-rimmed margarita glass.”

4)      Krispy Crème sandwiches (Chicken or burger)

This concoction’s insides don’t really appear to be all that strange.  It could consists of a burger (or two) or a chicken breast, bacon and cheese.  All things that tend to sound pretty average, which is why instead of buns, two Krispy Kreme donuts are used to hold it all together.    So if a nice fatty bacon, cheese and meat sandwich just isn’t enough, you may have found your match.  Neha Grey of DivineCaroline.com adds, “It packs well over 1,000 calories. (Just one glazed donut has 10 grams of sugar). Pairs nicely with Lipitor.”

5)      Fried Kool-Aid
According to an interview with Sign On San Diego, “It sold 400 to 600 orders of deep-fried Kool-Aid per day the first weekend of the San Diego County Fair.”  As for what it is, we’ll let this Kool-Aid related recipe be explained by its creator, Charlie Boghosian, in this video from ABCNews.com:

Video: Deep Fried Kool-Aid

 

While all of these foods may sound delicious and for most are plenty to dive into a mere once a year, for others who want to make it an everyday obsession, check out these spots.

Joe’s in Fullerton, California.  The OC Register says Joe’s offers everything from “Fried Ho-Hos and alligator sausage to Rocky Mountain oysters and corn dogs the size of baseball bats (well, almost).”

The Sausage King in Nashua, New Hampshire.  The Sausage King’s menu offers up everything from Black and Tan Onion Rings (dipped in a batter with black and tan beer), Italian Sausage with onions and peppers and for dessert everything from Fried Twinkies to Fried Snickers.

Mr. Harry’s Carnival Foods in Ballwin, Missouri.   Mr. Harry’s serves up everything you’d expect to find at a fair or in this case a carnival.  There are turkey legs, Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, tons of shaved ice and even baked funnel cakes (for those watching their calories of course).

Now we want to know, what’s your favorite fair food or place to get fair food year around?  Please comment below.

 

Central’s Week in Brief: August 12, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

1)      In the past week, rioting has been taking place in the streets of London and this has begun to take its toll on area restaurants and pubs.  Big Hospitality has reported that many restaurants have been forced to close early to ensure employees can arrive home safely.  Other establishments have actually suffered from looting as severe as rioters coming in and holding up patrons as they were eating.  The article, written on Tuesday, reports, “So far more than 450 people have been arrested in connection with the riots over three nights.”

2)      It seems despite the efforts of Michelle Obama to get the country in shape and encourage everyone to start eating better, most restaurants are instead putting out even more unhealthy food.  In fact, The Daily Beast has gathered a full list of some of the most fattening new items on menus at chain restaurants.  Just a few examples are the Provolone Stuffed Meatballs at Appleebees (containing 1,520 calories and 3,700 mg of sodium) and the Monster Bacon n’ Beef Cheeseburger with Bacon Patty at iHop (containing 1,270 calories and 42 grams of Saturated Fat). 

3)      A new social experiment is currently taking place on Twitter.  This experiment began when Jonathan Stark started a Twitter account for his Starbucks card.  What’s the point?  Well, by doing this Stark has invited anyone and everyone to have the opportunity to use the card, put money onto it and share their experience.  If you’d like to participate, check out his site and share your caffeine addiction with the global community.

4)      Is Google+ the next Facebook?  Only time will tell on that one, but in the mean time the new social network and its users are sharing some of their unique capabilities.  The New York Times has reported on one of these, a live cooking show, hosted by Lee Allison.  While cooking shows are actually available for viewing on most websites (and even on that ancient TV device you have sitting at home), the Google+ version is a bit different.  In this scenario, users can join together with the Google Hangouts feature and cook along with their host, Mr. Allison, while at the same time interacting with him and one another.  Check the G+ Cooking Schools site for more information on the project as well as what classes are coming up.

5)    With school back in session, many parents are starting to get back in the swing of things buying new supplies, clothing and more.  For others, coming back to school will mean something much bigger.  Tricities.com reports, “United Way of Russell and Washington Counties (in Virgina) announced Wednesday a $65,000-a-year program to put healthy, kid-friendly food into the backpacks of 340 kids who otherwise go hungry at home.”   This program will send home food with selected students at 17 area schools each Friday to ensure that they are not just receiving nutrition during the five day school week.