Bigger, Tastier Wings Reply

Chicken wings really are getting bigger. I have this on authority of Sally Smith, president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar, who says the company used to get ten or eleven wings per pound but now gets only eight or nine. This and other facts are in my article just published in Watt PoultryUSA magazine, based on her presentation to the National Chicken Council last October (long lead time). The piece is, I think, the last echo of my brief stint as a trade journalist from October to February. See it at

Buffalo Wild Wings Sees Growth, Keeps Focus on Chicken

My column on farm safety Reply

I spent a couple of weeks recently with the fine folks at the American Farm Bureau Federation, which is a major provider of news and commentary to the farm press and farm community.  I wrote a piece on agricultural occupational safety, which is important since the farm is actually a rather hazardous place to work.  The column has popped up in farm papers and web sites all over the place.  Here it is: More…

Another Encyclopedia 2

If you happen to have $540 to spare, or represent a library, please run right out and buy the brand-new “Encyclopedia of Lifestyle Medicine and Health” from SAGE Publications.

It has an excellent article on “Chicken and Poultry” by yours truly.  I wrote it almost three years ago.  Encyclopedias tend to take a long time to get into print.

This is my second encyclopedia. The first, in 2003, was the “Encyclopedia of Food and Culture” from Scribner.  I wrote the article on “Poultry” and eleven others, ranging from “Botulism” to “Military Rations” and “History of Food Production.”

The only trouble with writing for encyclopedias is that they compete with Wikipedia, which pays nothing, so printed encyclopedia don’t pay very much.  But it’s a great byline!

“Angry Birds” and the GIPSA Rule Reply

I used to play Angry Birds but quit because it was so darn hard to line up shots on an iPhone.  (I am now a FreeCell addict.)   However, the concept appealed to my editors at Meatingplace in Print magazine, and they put it in the headline of my article about the “GIPSA Rule” controversy.  It is in the February issue of the magazine, which is now available online.  You have to have a membership, but it’s free!

“Angry Birds” in Meatingplace in Print

Basically I am saying that while no one got everything they wanted in the final rule, the industry has reason to be satisfied, and it cost them only a million bucks.  What a country . . .

Jack Lobb, born 1912 Reply

Jack Lobb as photographer in WWII

Friday, February 24, 2012, is the centenary of the birth of my father, James Herbert “Jack” Lobb, in Dublin, Ireland. He came to this country with his family at the age of twelve.  His father, Frederick, found work with a wealthy family in Ridgewood, New Jersey, so he had the advantage of attending prep-school-quality public schools. He signed up for the Navy on December 8, 1941, and served as a photographer on the USS YORKTOWN, taking leave from training to marry my mother, the former Margaret O’Shea, on September 12, 1942. More…

Is bread the sodium bad guy? Reply

So, if you are worried about your blood pressure, you should stop eating bread because it is so high in sodium, right?  That’s the impression you get from the latest publicity blast from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about sources of sodium in the American diet.

CDC fingered bread and rolls as the biggest single source of sodium, saying they contribute 7.4 percent of the nation’s sodium intake.  That’s funny — I like bread, especially the crusty kind, and I’ve never tasted a piece that I thought was salty. Do bakers really put a lot of salt in bread?

Well, no. The average slice of white bread has 137 milligrams of sodium; whole wheat, 134.  Since the average daily allowance for sodium under government guidelines is 2,300 milligrams, that doesn’t seem like a lot. More…

Industry groups back federal plan to address foodborne illness Reply

By Richard Lobb on 2/1/2012

from (reprinted by permission)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s meatpackers are backing a plan by the federal government to get a better handle on which specific foods cause illnesses and death among consumers, saying the improved data can help fill gaps in the food safety system.

“The only way we can better understand what makes people sick is through this data,” Betsy Booren, director of scientific affairs for the American Meat Institute, said at a public meeting at USDA headquarters here. “By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist.”


“I Miss You, Jessica” Reply

The State Farm insurance company is spending millions of dollars on TV dramatizing the difference between State Farm and a certain unnamed insurance company that makes you call a toll-free number to report an accident.  The guy in the ad with his car up a phone call calls his (former) agent, Jessica,  and says that while it took only 15 minutes to switch insurance companies, it take a lot longer to get some help.

State Farm insurance logo As a State Farm customer for many years, I’ve appreciated the fact that I really could call my local agent and get help pronto.  We had a little accident a few years ago and called the agent’s office at ten minutes to five.  Presto, all was taken care of.

Well, guess what.


Will the GOP have a Goldwater/McGovern moment? Reply

Every so often, one of the major political parties goes off the deep end and nominates someone for president who has absolutely no chance of winning. The Republicans did it with Barry Goldwater in 1964 and the Democrats with George McGovern in 1972. The Republican faithful now seem inclined to do it again with Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich has leaped ahead of Mitt Romney in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, with 37 percent of likely GOP primary voters backing the ex-House speaker and Washington power broker, against only 28 percent supporting the ex-Massachusetts governor and hedge fund multimillionaire.


My Busy Month in Magazines Reply

Cover of January 2012 issue WATT PoultryUSA

I wrote the cover story in the January issue of WATT PoultryUSA

January is a busy month for me in trade magazines.  First out of the box was WATT PoultryUSA with my report on the Chicken Marketing Seminar in California.  I attended that event as an NCC staff person and of course had no inkling that I would be called upon to write a story about it.  It focuses on the growing role of social media in chicken marketing. You can see it at the WATT PoultryUSA web site: “Chicken suppliers and sellers confront new technology, social issues.”


Big changes coming for poultry inspection Reply

Picture of a chicken carcass

A typical chicken carcass

After years of hesitation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving ahead with a plan to take inspectors off the evisceration line at chicken and turkey slaughter plants.  Since the 1950’s, inspectors have stood at fixed stations on the line and checked every chicken carcass that came along. (About one every two seconds, usually.) They were supposed to touch the carcass in a certain way to check for evidence of bird disease, look for bile or fecal contamination, and otherwise make sure it was wholesome.

Trouble is, most poultry diseases have been practically eliminated.  The concern in recent years hasn’t been for poultry diseases, but for microbial contamination such as Salmonella.  And you can’t see or feel Salmonella cells no matter how hard you try.


“War Horse:” A Love Story Reply

When Stephen Spielberg directed “War Horse,” he set out to make an epic in the mold of  “Dr. Zhivago” or “Gone with the Wind.” Like those films,”War Horse” is a war movie that is a celebration of the power of loyalty and commitment.

Albert rides Joey, the "War Horse"
Albert rides Joey, the “War Horse”

But mostly it is a love story of the old-fashioned kind: boy meets horse, boy loses horse, boy and horse find each other and ride into the sunset. The story is simple and sentimental, as you might expect from a film based on a children’s novel. “War Horse,” the book, was written by Michael Morpurgo and published in England in 1982. It was also the source of a successful play staged in London and New York.