Chow Bella

Chow Bella's 9 Most Dramatic Moments in the National Food (and Drink) Scene in 2012

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Midwest Drought Causes Food Shortages and Drives Up Prices

As sweltering heat and the worst drought in 50 years withered corn, wheat and soybean crops across the Midwest last summer, prices on those commodities jumped to record highs. Soybeans rose 17%, corn and wheat a whopping 25%, which drove up prices for animal feed as well. The dire predictions: we're going to pay more for a whole lot of stuff this coming year, including cooking oil, salad dressing and all the middle-aisle boxed schlock containing soybeans or corn in one egregious form or another. Dairy and meat prices will also climb because farmers have had to cull herds and slaughter animals sooner than they usually would to avoid paying nose-bleed prices for feed. Anticipating a meat shortage or (gasp!) a Bacon Apocalypse, we got nostalgic about our favorite bacon dishes before anyone suggested they would ever go away. But they haven't. Yet.

California Bans the Sale of Foie Gras

July 1 was Foie-mageddon in California, the day an eight-year-old law that prohibits the selling of fattened duck or goose liver finally went into effect. Chefs and foie fanatics were in a flap over the crackdown, buying the pricy liver in massive amounts (to be stored in the freezer) and staging elaborate swan song dinners. Meanwhile, animal rights groups, who consider gavage (the practice of force-feeding the birds with a tube) inhumane, were elated. But their victory may be short-lived. Already, restaurants have found sneaky ways to get around the ban and avoid the $1,000 fine, but some speculate it will never be strictly enforced anyway. What big-city cop has the time to lurk around restaurants, trying to nab scofflaws? As one mystified diner at a foie farewell party put it, "I never thought I'd see the day I could smoke pot in California but not eat foie gras."

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Nikki Buchanan