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Andrew Zimmern’s New Show, ‘What’s Eating America,’ Will Tackle the Politics of Food

Plus, a California vineyard has spilled nearly 100,000 gallons of wine, and more news to start your day

Andrew Zimmern and José Andrés walking, with the Washington Monument in the background.
Andrew Zimmern and José Andrés in the series premiere of What’s Eating America.
Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal

Andrew Zimmern’s new show tackles politics through food

More than a year after the end of Andrew Zimmern’s long-running Travel Channel series Bizarre Foods, the chef/television host has shifted gears for a new show that sounds decidedly more serious in tone, called What’s Eating America. In the five-episode series, which will air on MSNBC, Zimmern explores political and social issues — immigration, climate change, addiction, voting rights, and health care — through the lens of food.

“There is no more important time than right now to be telling stories about civics, politics and culture through food,” Zimmern said in a press release. “Kitchen table civics and food politics have been absent from our dialogue at this level for a long time.”

This turn towards the nuances of food, politics, and culture — which, as the Washington Post points out, echoes a path Anthony Bourdain carved out when he left the Travel Channel for CNN — will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows, considering Zimmern’s last major turn in the headlines. In late 2018, he publicly apologized for comments he made that suggested his new Minneapolis restaurant Lucky Cricket would be a savior of Chinese food for Midwesterners: “I think I’m saving the souls of all the people from having to dine at these horseshit restaurants masquerading as Chinese food that are in the Midwest.”

The backlash to Zimmern’s comments “was never a conversation about whether a white man could cook Chinese … It was about the strange idea that the food-court Chinese joints of the nation were a problem that needed fixing in the first place,” Soleil Ho, in a review of Lucky Cricket for Eater, wrote at the time. “Call me optimistic or naive, but I don’t think that the diners of Middle America, an increasingly diverse and worldly bunch, would be satisfied with an experience that is actually worse than food-court Chinese.”

What’s Eating America debuts on February 16 with a two-hour episode featuring fellow chef and humanitarian José Andrés.

And in other news…

  • Nearly 100,000 gallons of red wine has spilled from a tank at a California vineyard, leaking into a nearby creek and the Russian River. [Los Angeles Times]
  • Frieda Caplan, the “Kiwi Queen” who helped popularize the once-”exotic” fruit in the U.S., has died. [Washington Post]
  • Justin Trudeau finds himself embroiled in drama yet again, this time for posting a photo of himself buying doughnuts from a local shop — one that charges between $35–$47 Canadian ($26.61–$35.73 USD) per box of a dozen doughnuts. [CNN]
  • Cell-based meat company Memphis Meats raised a whopping $161 million in funding to build a pilot plant, with investors including big names like Bill Gates and big meat like Tyson Foods. [Food Dive]
  • A few years ago, General Electric began making it harder to replace their refrigerator water filters with $20 third-party options, instead requiring $50-plus GE-specific filters with RFID chips in order for the water dispense to actually filter water. Technology that is specifically designed to wring as much money out of consumers as possible because there are no alternatives … great! [Vice]
  • More than a decade after the Farm Bill was passed, the USDA has finally proposed criteria that addresses fairness (or “undue preference”) within the meat industry, but critical farmers are not happy with the new proposed ground rule. [Modern Farmer]
  • TikTokers, please stop dipping your testicles into soy sauce “to taste it”!!! [Insider]

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