Food Court: E-Julia Child, Starbucks' Small Business, A Food-Insecure Muppet

10/10/2011 11:47 am ET | Updated Dec 10, 2011

In which Shelly Peppel and Fran Brennan, the editors of Food52 News, pass judgement on the week's top food news.

  • Winner: The many fans of Mrs. Q (and hopefully school-lunch eaters everywhere) The mysterious Mrs. Q of 'Fed Up With Lunch' fame outed herself this week after a year of anonymously documenting lunches (and posting daily food pix high on the "eew" factor) served at the Chicago public school where she works. For kids who qualify for free or reduced meals, school lunch is often the most important (read: only) meal of their day. And in families with the means to provide good meals for their kids, parents too often have no idea what's really being served. No-longer undercover eater Sarah Wu bravely showed us, and more bravely ate, what many of our children face everyday. Can we plead ignorance anymore?

Judge Decrees: If You Build It, They Will Come (or not)
Parents and nutritionists have been strong-arming schools for years to stop selling junk food and sodas in school vending machines. And slowly the Oreos and Gatorade are being replaced with carrots and smoothies. But students aren't going for it. "Kids want healthy stuff like baked Doritos, but not an apple that they can get at home free", says 10th grader John Achnitz. And high school students aren't the only ones not buying; Adult fast-food goers are reaching for the Big Mac, not the salad with cottage cheese. Considering that McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal has more sugar than a Snickers bar maybe the problem isn't that we're choosing the wrong fast-food menu items; It's that we're going to fast-food restaurants in the first place.

Winner: Job Seekers and Caffeine Lovers
While President Obama takes his job bill to the road in hopes of winning support, Starbucks has been working up its own job-stimulus plan. Believing we all need to work on improving the economy rather than wait for government solutions, Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz will start accepting donations from Starbucks customers next month to help fund loans for small businesses and non-profits. Starting November 1, the loose change from your latté purchase can be creating jobs. In that case, make ours a double mocha macchiato. 

Loser: Hungry Americans  • Winner: The denizens of Sesame Street (who got a new neighbor) 
The number of Americans on food stamps reached a record high this year, up 8.4% from a year earlier. Is this the new normal? Creators of Sesame Street think so. This week Sesame Street introduced their newest Muppet character, Lily, a seven-year-old "food insecure" girl. "She wants to talk about this topic," says Jeanette Betancourt, a senior VP at Sesame Workshop, "because she knows it will help many other families and children." The new character is another reminder that when we have kids' attention, we can education them. And this new lesson is long overdue.

Winner: Julia Child fans (who also happen to own iPads)
Alfred A. Knopf released the e-book edition of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking this week, after the initial objections of Child's longtime friend and editor Judith Jones. The ever-faithful Jones argued the e-book should be held off until it could be accurately reproduced and not suffer in the sometimes awkward print to e-book conversion. After more than a year of focused attention, Knopf has succeeded in not only winning Ms. Jones' support, but also in producing an enhanced version that offers readers a pop-up dictionary (um, what's a velouté?) and links for easy jumping between recipes. Will other cookbook authors follow in her footsteps? Alton Brown said this week he is done with traditional publishing and will focus on e-books. He wants to "go where nobody has gone before." But didn't Julia, ever at the vanguard, the ground-breaker, just beat him to it?

Get more of Fran & Shelly's take on food news at Food52 News and on Twitter: @food52news