Food Inc.: Corporations Cooking for Us

Who decides what we eat - CookinGenie

04 Nov 2020

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Food Inc.: Corporations Cooking for Us

A few years ago, an infographic went viral that showed how most of the world’s food brands are owned by just a handful of corporations. 

food brands owned by corporations

Image Source: visualcapitalist

Around the same time that this infographic started circulating, a study found that nearly 60% of the calories in the modern American diet come from processed foods.  

 How did we get here with our food 

 In the early years of our countryhome cooked meals & fresh cooked meals were the ways to eatWe plucked our own chickens, grew our own vegetables, made our own bread. We ate whole foods made from scratch. There were innovations—a company called Van Camp sold canned beans to the Union Army during the Civil War, Clarence Birdseye introduced frozen foods in the 1920s—but for the most part, we knew where your food came from or at least knew the local farmer or butcher who provided our ingredients. 

 It was post World War II that our food supply really started to change. Food manufacturers who had secured government contracts during the war saw their profits plummet. To make up for lost wartime revenue, they started introducing new food innovations designed to appeal to housewives’ demand for convenience, like Minute Maid concentrated orange juice, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Minute Rice.1 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

The way Americans shopped for food was changing, tooTurn-of-the-century housewives bought their food from the freestanding grocer, butcher, and dry goods stores. They’d hand their shopping list to the store clerk, and the clerk would pick all the items for them. The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis in 1916, and this new store model—where consumers roamed through the store picking out their own items from the shelf—quickly caught on. According to the National Women’s History Museumbetween 1948 and 1958, the number of supermarkets in the United States doubled to over 2,500 and for the first time, it was cheaper to buy processed food than fresh.   

 Suddenly there were lots of money to be made in packaged convenience foods and the mergers and acquisitions began. Large companies started gobbling up smaller brands, and the steady consolidation of the industry continues to grow. In the last 20 years, there have been 9,007 mergers and acquisitions in the food, beverage, and grocery space, according to The Food Institute.  

 Industry watchdog Food & Water Watch says that all this consolidation means that these companies have an outsized influence on the food choices, diets, and working conditions of people around the world — not to mention the impact they have on the environment. Reduced competition gives these corporations control of the market price that farmers get for their crops and livestock. It’s led to the decrease of family farms and the growth of factory farms, ecologically damaging farming practices, and more and more unhealthy processed foods on grocery store shelves.  

(Also ReadAvoid wasting food: save $1600 per year)

Amidst all this, what can we do to eat healthy? We love eating out and that will always remain an enjoyable experience. But the sure shot way to eat healthily is to have more home cooked meals. Meal prepping can also be an effective strategy. But if modern life gets in the way of fresh cooked meals or meal prepping, consider businesses like CookinGenie. CookinGenie can send a Genie (culinary experts ranging from classically trained chefs to specialized home cooks) to your house to make home-cooked meals for you and your family. Click here to view our menus and book your Genie today & enjoy fresh cooking from wholesome ingredients.  


Related Post

Who decides what we eat - CookinGenie

04 Nov 2020

A few years ago, an infographic went viral that showed how most of the world’s food brands are owned by just a handful of corporations. 

Image Source: visualcapitalist

Around the same time that this infographic started circulating, a study found that nearly 60% of the calories in the modern American diet come from processed foods.  

 How did we get here with our food 

 In the early years of our countryhome cooked meals & fresh cooked meals were the ways to eatWe plucked our own chickens, grew our own vegetables, made our own bread. We ate whole foods made from scratch. There were innovations—a company called Van Camp sold canned beans to the Union Army during the Civil War, Clarence Birdseye introduced frozen foods in the 1920s—but for the most part, we knew where your food came from or at least knew the local farmer or butcher who provided our ingredients. 

 It was post World War II that our food supply really started to change. Food manufacturers who had secured government contracts during the war saw their profits plummet. To make up for lost wartime revenue, they started introducing new food innovations designed to appeal to housewives’ demand for convenience, like Minute Maid concentrated orange juice, Duncan Hines cake mixes, and Minute Rice.1 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

The way Americans shopped for food was changing, tooTurn-of-the-century housewives bought their food from the freestanding grocer, butcher, and dry goods stores. They’d hand their shopping list to the store clerk, and the clerk would pick all the items for them. The first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened in Memphis in 1916, and this new store model—where consumers roamed through the store picking out their own items from the shelf—quickly caught on. According to the National Women’s History Museumbetween 1948 and 1958, the number of supermarkets in the United States doubled to over 2,500 and for the first time, it was cheaper to buy processed food than fresh.   

 Suddenly there were lots of money to be made in packaged convenience foods and the mergers and acquisitions began. Large companies started gobbling up smaller brands, and the steady consolidation of the industry continues to grow. In the last 20 years, there have been 9,007 mergers and acquisitions in the food, beverage, and grocery space, according to The Food Institute.  

 Industry watchdog Food & Water Watch says that all this consolidation means that these companies have an outsized influence on the food choices, diets, and working conditions of people around the world — not to mention the impact they have on the environment. Reduced competition gives these corporations control of the market price that farmers get for their crops and livestock. It’s led to the decrease of family farms and the growth of factory farms, ecologically damaging farming practices, and more and more unhealthy processed foods on grocery store shelves.  

(Also ReadAvoid wasting food: save $1600 per year)

Amidst all this, what can we do to eat healthy? We love eating out and that will always remain an enjoyable experience. But the sure shot way to eat healthily is to have more home cooked meals. Meal prepping can also be an effective strategy. But if modern life gets in the way of fresh cooked meals or meal prepping, consider businesses like CookinGenie. CookinGenie can send a Genie (culinary experts ranging from classically trained chefs to specialized home cooks) to your house to make home-cooked meals for you and your family. Click here to view our menus and book your Genie today & enjoy fresh cooking from wholesome ingredients.  

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How to Cook Meat Safely - CookinGenie blog

28 Sep 2021

There are many foods that can cause illness when handled incorrectly, but one of the most common instances of serious foodborne illness comes from the undercooking or mishandling of meat. Raw meat is often full of fecal matter from the animal, which can contain a host of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Because of this, it is crucial to handle raw meat carefully and cook it to a safe temperature to kill as many pathogens as possible. If not, an undercooked piece of meat can easily get someone sick.

While this may sound simple, there are some intricacies to cooking meat safely, and not all meats are safe to eat at the same temperature. Here are some of the key things to remember when cooking meat and how some of the most popular meats need to be cooked in order to be safe to serve.

Keep raw meats separate from other foods—including other meats

It’s common sense that the juices from raw meat should stay away from fresh produce but it’s also good practice to keep raw meat away from other raw meat. As you’ll see with the minimum required internal temperatures, not all meats are safe at the same time. Chicken, for example, needs to be cooked more than steak. So, if you get the juices from raw chicken over your steak, the steak may be cooked all the way through, but the residual juice from the chicken may not be.

Also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils for different kinds of meat, wash your hands after handling raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces the meat may have come into contact with.

Minimum required internal temperatures

Poultry, like chicken and turkey requires the most cooking, while pork, beef, lamb, and seafood requires less. Note that ground meat of any kind requires more cooking than a whole piece of the same meat. This is because ground meat, with an increased surface area and the potential to come from more than one individual animal, has more exposure to bacteria. To take the temperature of a protein, insert a clean, sanitized thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the thermometer to read a temperature. For many meats, the meat needs to hold that temperature for a given period of time before it’s considered safe.

Also note that after you remove your meat from the heat, it will continue to cook for several more minutes in a process known as carry-over cooking, which will raise the internal temperature 5-10⁰F, so if your meat is a couple degrees under the minimum required internal temperature when you measure it, it’ll be safe to serve by the time you eat it.

The following are the minimum required internal temperatures for different proteins.

Poultry—Including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck: 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds

This also includes any stuffing inside of a bird (think thanksgiving) as well as any casseroles, stuffed pastas, or stuffed chicken breasts. When temping whole birds, make sure to insert the thermometer underneath the thigh, which is the thickest part of the bird.

Ground meat—Including beef, pork, lamb, veal, and ground seafood: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Note that a medium burger is 140-145⁰F, and a well-done burger is 160⁰F.Eating a burger less than well-done could increase your chances of getting sick, which is why restaurants have the note at the bottom of their menus denoting the increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming undercooked meat.

Injected meat/brined meat—Including brined hams and roasts injected with flavor: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Eggs that are meant to be held hot: 155⁰F for 15 seconds
Eggs that are to be served immediately: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

Chops/steaks of red meat—Including beef, lamb, veal, and pork: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

All of these meats will be a little pink at this temperature, but they’re safe to eat. A medium-rare steak is between 130-135⁰F, so there is a higher risk associated with eating steak under medium.

Whole roasts of pork, beef, veal, or lamb: 155⁰ for 4 minutes

Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Because roasts are much bigger, the temperature needs to hold much longer to ensure it’s cooked through.

Whole seafood—Including whitefish, shellfish, and crustaceans: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

This applies to whole pieces of fish and shellfish/crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. With bivalves such as mussels or clams, there is no need to measure temperature, they are safe when the shells open.

The bottom line

Overall, cooking meat to safe temperatures is a very simple, but very important task in the kitchen. Having a digital thermometer makes everything easier. If you’re unsure of how the meat needs to be cooked, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and slightly overcook a piece of meat than to get someone sick. When you book a chef from CookinGenie, you can trust that they’ll cook your meat so that it’s not only safe to eat, but also delicious.

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30 Oct 2019

We have spoken about the idea of having someone come to your home to cook for you. How do you ensure that this is safe for you & your family? The idea of allowing someone you do not know into your home and preparing food for you and your family feels intrusive. So today we are going to discuss why those fears exist, how other industries have overcome it. As well as some practical advice for you so you can feel safe while you make good choices for your family. Overall though, if you do your homework and follow some basic safety precautions there is no reason you should feel hesitant to enjoy services like in home cooking.

So, what are the safety concerns of bringing a CookinGenie into your home? Common concerns are theft, personal safety, and food safety. Let’s explore a few other emerging industries that pushed our comfort boundaries when they first entered the scene and examine how they put our fears at ease.

Getting in a stranger’s car. Isn’t this the EXACT thing that mothers in the 80’s warned their children about? Then Uber and Lyft hit the scene and the world transformed. What makes them safe? Geolocation, background checks, driver reviews, and customer reviews. In today’s digital age this dual rating system protects the buyer and the seller by giving each a chance to rate each other. Encouraging everyone to keep things on the up and up.

Allowing Strangers in our home. Another one our mothers warned us against. It’s not a bad principle, unless your refrigerator breaks, or your washing machine, or you need cable installed, or you have a clogged pipe. When something goes wrong, we shift our fears and let a stranger in. Why? Because we trust people who are vetted by reputable firms or reviewed by our trusted circle. Online ratings help.

Staying in a stranger’s home. This is how campfire stories start. You should never ever stay in someone’s home. Especially if the owner is not there. Unless it’s and AirBnB. Suddenly the world shifted again when AirBnB started allowing property owners to rent out their residences to weary travelers. Especially for families, having a cost-effective alternative to a hotel with all the comforts of home solved a problem for traveling families. So what do they provide to make this once taboo idea feel safe and even luxurious? Boundaries. In every AirBnB booking there are house rules. Clear written boundaries for both parties to agree- encouraging open communication and enforced with a dual rating system.

So how do you decide if you want someone to come to your home & cook for you? Common questions may be – is this person insured? Is he or she background checked? Is this person rated highly? Is this person local?

Do your due diligence & you will start feeling comfortable soon. Our Genies are background checked, know about cooking & are from your locality. You feel comfortable with your favorite babysitter? This is no different.

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