Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Conviction (Thomas Edison inventor), Creativity (Bob Fosbury high jumper), Courage (Laird Hamilton surfer) = Game Changers!

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The above tag line is the spine of Mazda’s new advertising campaign which I first viewed this past weekend when I went to the movies.  It made me think about some of the really great game changers out there that have exhibited C³: Conviction, Creativity and Courage.  Three game changers that fly below the radar screen of the high-techies that steal all the ink are as follows:

Matt Flannery and Jessica Jackley   Inspired by a microfinance lecture they attended at Stanford Business School, founded Kiva back in 2005, a non-profit organization that leverages the internet to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries worldwide.  Kiva works through microfinance institutions, social businesses, schools and non-profit organizations known as “Field Partners.”  Currently there are 191 “Field Partners” who post profiles of qualified entrepreneurs on Kiva’s website; lenders browse and contribute via PayPal.  As of March this year they have raised over $400 billion from close to 900 thousand lenders for a total of approximately 533 thousand loans.  Game Changers!

Blake Mycoskie   Back in 2006, this Texas entrepreneur founded the California for-profit shoe and eyewear company TOMS that operators a non-profit subsidiary Friends of Toms.  Every time Toms sells a pair of shoes, a pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child.  Every time Toms sells their eyewear, part of the proceeds goes to developing countries to help people that have issues with their eyesight.  A Game Charger!   

Conviction, Creativity, Courage = Game Changer!  Are you ready to become a Game Changer?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who is Cooking? Part II

I was flying home Monday from the National Restaurant Show, when I read some of the letters to the editor in the New York Times regarding the May 11th op-ed “Pay People to Cook at Home.”  The letters further validated my April post: “Who is Cooking?”

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“PayPeople to Cook at Home” was written by Kristin Wartman a journalist who writes about food, health, politics and culture.  She presents an interesting point of view as it relates to the current debate that food advocate Michael Pollan recently initiated.  He contends Americans should take control and eat more intelligently/healthier by getting back into the kitchen.  If you have time, I suggest you click on the link and read Kristin’s op-ed.  She provides some original solutions, including the concept of the “1.5 jobs model” which several Northern European nations have instituted.  Men and women are allowed to work 75 percent of their normal hours when they have young children (e.g., in Sweden until children turn 8).  Consequently parents have more time to nurture their children like shopping for food, cooking or tending to a community garden.

Back in April, in response to the release of Pollan’s latest book, I questioned whether America was ready to rebuild a culture of cooking.  I argued that we are suffering from time deprivation thanks to our busy lifestyles.  Most Americans prefer processed convenience foods or inexpensive restaurant meals that tend to have more unhealthy calories and are less nutritional value than carefully planned home cooked meals.  A majority of the letters confirmed my rationale.  To quote one woman from Brooklyn: “Try getting home at 6 or 7 with children weary from after school, starting your fresh-cooked dinner and supervising homework at the same time.”    

Ms. Wartman and I both agree home cooking will require a major cultural shift. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On This Day In…..

2008 the Chicago City Council repealed its ban on the sale of foie gras.

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The production of the bird liver delicacy foie gras (French for “fat liver") has always been under attack by animal rights and welfare activists groups.  The activists specifically contend that force feeding geese or ducks which normally occurs 12 to 18 days prior to slaughter is inhumane.  Back in April 2006 the Chicago City Council voted to ban the sale of foie gras effective August 22nd.  Several Chicago chefs filed suit.  Some even went to the length of giving their foie gras away without charge which they maintained did not violate the law.  Chicago’s mayor, Richard M. Daley referred to the ban as being the “silliest law” ever passed.  “We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers.  We have real issues here in this city.  Let’s get some priorities.”  The law was finally repealed on May 14th, 2008.

Anybody want to meet me in Chicago this upcoming weekend at the National Restaurant Show to indulge on some foie gras and wine?  My treat!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Good Vibrations – Caffeine USA

Alert Energy Caffeine Gum, Extreme Sports Beans, E6 Energy Strips, etc., etc., etc.  Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine everywhere!  

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I first addressed America’s wired craving for caffeine back in 2009.  The National Coffee Association’s 2013 Survey indicated that 83 percent of adults drink coffee, up from 78 percent a year earlier.  My post back in 2009 reported 54 percent!  On any given day, half of the American population drinks tea according to the Tea Association of the USA – they reported the 2011 annual consumption was well over 65 billion servings.  Packaged Foods reported that energy drinks (including energy shots) hit $12.5 million in sales (2012) and will continue to be the fastest growing beverage category; sales are projected to reach $21.5 billion in five years.  When I Googled the monthly per capita consumption of “Liquid Candy,” better known as carbonated soft drinks, another source of caffeine, it came up too much!  Note: A 12 oz. can of Coke has 34 milligrams of caffeine.

Targeting adolescents, food companies are now banking on snacks, including gum, like some of the products I outlined in the above blink.  As a result, the FDA is on alert, concerned given the number of illnesses and deaths they are currently investigating associated with energy drinks.  They first approved the added use of caffeine back in the 50’s for food and drink.  Imagine how wired someone can now get on caffeine if they consume a can of Red Bull (80mg), Extreme Sports Beans (50mg) and then chew on a piece of Alert gum (40mg); more wired than someone who chugs a two-ounce bottle/shot of E6 Energy (150mg).

Join the buzz.  Good Vibrations – Caffeine USA!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Chik Boutique

Someone once asked me: “what is the difference between free range chicken and farm raised chicken?”  I responded “barb wire!”  Now what about urban chickens that have free rein?  “Diapers!”

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I have posted about the pet industry in the past.  A quick Google search to the APPA (American Pet Products Association) revealed that the estimated total 2012 U.S. Pet Industry Expenditures will be $55.53 billion, up 4.1 percent from actual 2012 spending of $53.33 billion.  According to their Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. Households own a pet; that equates to 72.9 million homes.

Yesterday I read about the growing popularity of backyard, urban poultry farming.  According to a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 0.8 percent of the households in major cities like NYC, Miami, L.A. and Denver own chickens.  They project that in the next few years this number will be closer to 4 percent.  More importantly I learned backyard chickens have cultivated a new, multimillion dollar niche industry for chicken pet supplies. A popular item is diapers so chickens do not soil their owner’s rugs.  Two emerging companies are Pampered Poultry and  In addition to diapers, they also sell chicken treats like “chicken crack” which is a feed consisting of organic (of course!) grains, seeds, dried meal worms and dried river shrimp.  Thanks to the urban chicken trend, a specialty magazine called Backyard Poultry is now being published!

Are you ready to be an urban farmer who shops for chicken supplies and designer diapers at a Chik Boutique?