Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Gastrological Forecast

By Benny Villalobos

DECEMBER 22, 1997: 

This week, a look at the politics of food:

  • Students at Harvard University recently voted to end its five-year-long ban on table grapes, which was originally begun in support of the United Farm Workers' boycott of non-union growers. The campaign to return grapes to the table was spearheaded by one Adam Kovacevich--son of a prominent California grape grower--whose agitation led to the Dec. 3 "Great Grape Referendum" in which students were invited to vote. Results came 54 percent in favor of grapes, with 46 percent voting to extend the ban. The Wall Street Journal implied that the overturn came from several cultural factors, including college spirit (the Crimson Seedless breed is said to be favored among Harvardians), Kovacevich's graphic campaign (he appropriated the logo from Fruit of the Loom underwear) and the UFW's own admission that the grape boycott has grown "dormant" (they have since moved on to strawberries).

  • The FDA recently approved radiation as a preservation technique to be used on red meat. The possibility of irradiating food has been on the American table for about 50 years and is already in use in 40 countries, with the blessings of the World Health Organization and the UN. But still, most Americans simply don't like the sound of it. The levels of ionizing radiation used in the process, as consumer advocates like to point out, is about 100,000 rads, whereas exposure to 600 rads would kill a person easily. To date, no food producers have announced plans to use radiation in their meat-packing process.

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