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Amazon to immediately lower price of healthy food after Whole Foods acquisition

In a move that is sure to send shock waves quickly throughout the grocery business, Amazon will immediately lower prices of healthy food items once it successfully acquires Whole Foods on Monday, August 28th, 2017.

Woman holds an avocado

On the list: organic avocados, organic brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon, almond butter, organic apples, organic rotisserie chicken, and more. Amazon has pledged to continue dropping prices and will offer Amazon Prime members exclusive deals in the future when they phase out the current rewards system that Whole Foods has in place.

In addition, Whole Foods brands will be available on Amazon.com, AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry and Prime Now starting Monday.

Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO, Jeff Wilke, says they are “determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone. Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality.” He also said they “will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards.”

Whole Foods was sued in the past multiple times for price-gouging customers, Amazon seems to be making it clear they will prioritize making prices friendlier to consumers with these statements. Lowering the price of healthy food is sure to put pressure on grocery stores that frequently charge consumers extra for healthy food.

A 2013 study in the British Medical Journal Open found that people with healthy diets spend about a $1.50 more per day than people who eat unhealthy diets. This is mainly a burden for families that have low-incomes. The 2013 study also notes that the food industry itself is part of the problem and needs to change to make healthier food available:

unhealthy diets may cost less because food policies have focused on the production of “inexpensive, high volume” commodities, which has led to “a complex network of farming, storage, transportation, processing, manufacturing, and marketing capabilities that favor sales of highly processed food products for maximal industry profit.” Given this reality, they said that creating a similar infrastructure to support production of healthier foods might help increase availability—and reduce the prices—of more healthful diets.”

Maybe Amazon is trying to do exactly that. Only time will tell.

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The Founder – How Greed Created McDonald’s Empire

I saw The Founder on Netflix yesterday. I was told about about it by some friends and encouraged to give it a look. I have heard the story of McDonald’s in the past, but watching it in a film was something else.

Ray Kroc was a man filled with ambition and nothing would stop him until he had what he wanted.

The original McDonald’s founders were simple men of integrity, hard-work, and valued their customers…something that was lost in the noise as American corporations have made their push forward. Ray Kroc bought the rights to McDonald’s from them after buying up the land underneath their franchisee locations and using banks and franchisees to force a sale.

The founders of McDonald’s were woefully inept and allegedly used a handshake deal for 1% of the company’s profits that never came to be. That moment reminded me all too much of the crazy events of The Social Network.

The end result was brilliant from a business point-of-view and terrible from a people point-of-view.

One of the main arguments the creators of McDonald’s experienced with Ray Kroc in the movie was Kroc’s desire to use powdered milkshakes instead of real milkshakes. This troubled the founders who wanted to serve real products to their customers.

One could argue this is where McDonald’s went down the slippery slope that they find themselves in today. The trade-off between customer health and profits has been a long-fought one with fast food companies increasingly becoming conscious of their impact on society as fast-casual restaurants and socially-responsible corporations take a bite out of their sales.

Just look at the “pink slime” scandal McDonald’s found itself in when Chef Jamie Oliver exposed their use of ammonium hydroxide in their food. The Founder ended saying that McDonald’s feeds billions of people a day so it is safe to say that plenty of people ate this until McDonald’s and other fast food giants discontinued use.

McDonald’s fries have almost 19 ingredients in them – many that you won’t find in other countries that ban chemicals in their food. Until last year, McDonald’s nuggets were made with artificial preservatives. I could go on but you get the point.

I’m not saying that I expect fast food companies to provide great quality food, but there should be a fine line between harmful chemicals and profits. The fact that McDonald’s can operate in foreign markets that ban chemicals and make a profit there suggests that it is simply out of pure convenience and greed that real products are denied to Americans.

But what about the economy? Low wages and record profits at McDonald’s continues taxpayer funded corporate welfare that is costing taxpayers almost $1.2 billion dollars a year as employees at McDonald’s find themselves unable to survive and end up on food stamps and other programs. In 2013, McDonald’s was busted trying to tell their employees how to live in poverty.

McDonald’s ranks as the #1 fast food business that has employees on public assistance.

The greed displayed in the film by Ray Kroc doesn’t seem too far from the reality. Kroc built a McDonald’s across the street from the creators and ran them out of business after trademarking their last-name in a most profound amount of petty I have never witnessed.

In response to the health impact of their food, Kroc was quoted saying: “What do all those nutritionists and college professors and those Nader types know?” he says. “How many jobs have they ever created?”.

The amount of preservatives used in McDonald’s food is well-published and has been on the public display for some time now. The Founder establishes that these roots were made from an early point in history and continue today.

Theatrically, The Founder is an excellent film and tells the story well without a real biased point-of-view. The acting is superb and the cinematography correctly matches the era it was meant to capture. What occurs during the film will have you thinking about the ethics of American corporations and greed in the United States for some time.

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Articles Restaurant News

Caffeine Roasters now open on Kennedy in South Tampa

Caffeine Roasters has moved into where Drama Burger once stood at 2420 West Kennedy Boulevard and is now open. Caffeine is also located in Downtown Tampa minutes from Franklin Manor at 212 East Cass Street. I am a fan of the Downtown location and also really enjoy the new space as well.

The expansion mirrors an expansion happening with many of the new coffee shop brands taking on Buddy Brew Coffee and Kahwa locally.

The menu is the same at both locations and the space has lots of seating from couches to tables and plugs and Wi-Fi available. The only downside of the new location on Kennedy is lack of parking – the place has only been open for a few weeks and parking already sucks.

On the positive side, they have a drive-thru so you can take your coffee with you if you can’t find parking.

The staff is very friendly and happy to explain the types of coffee they provide and the background of what they are doing – that was also noticeable when I visited the Downtown Tampa location in the past as well.

Last but most certainly not least, their coffee tastes great – I had an El Salvador roast during my visit and fully enjoyed it without hardly any sweeteners or add-ons. Check out Caffeine Roasters!

Restaurant Name: Caffeine Roasters

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Address: 2420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609

Phone Number: (813) 644-7245

Website: http://www.caffeineusa.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CaffeineRoastersTampa/

Twitter: @CaffeineTampa

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/caffeineroasterstampa/

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Articles Reviews

Little Donut House more than a little disappointing

What is it about miniature donuts that makes them so enticing? Is it how magical they look on Instagram and Snapchat? I’m not really sure, but I decided to give them a shot this past weekend at Little Donut House located at 4048 West Kennedy Boulevard.

I was initially inspired to try Little Donut House after sampling their Margarita Donut at CL Margarita Wars which was actually quite tasty and impressed me with an innovative taste.

My friend and I ordered 6 donuts ($4.50) and shared them during our visit to Little Donut House. None of them were appealing.

littledonut1

The donuts were cold and lacked any flavors that stood out. They did not taste fresh from the donut underneath to the toppings. Most of the menu items were basically chocolate choices and the other ones did not sound too appetizing.

I suppose you can argue that the donuts were not fresh because we visited in the middle  of the afternoon. Still – I liken it to a pizza place selling pizza by the slice in the afternoon that should probably be thrown out.

If you’re open for business – the quality should still be there.

Quality toppings and ingredients could definitely pave the way for an excellent mini donut. There is lots of possibilities, but I haven’t seen that execution yet.

The most disappointing donut I had was the Maple Bacon Donut. The bacon on the donut tasted like bacon you might get from a salad bar drizzled on top of a miniature donut and fell completely flat on flavor.

It’s really hard to make bacon unappealing and that’s why this experience has stuck with me in the back of my mind for days.

I am not a fan of Mini Doughnut Factory either – too sweet, too cakey, just not for me…but Little Donut House fell even under that scope.

I wasn’t even aware that Little Donut House and Mini Doughnut Factory were in the middle of litigation recently over a name dispute, but frankly I don’t like either.

For mini donuts I am going to stick to Disco Donuts and for regular donuts I am sticking to Craving Donuts.

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Taco Traveler delivers world class eats

I stopped by The Taco Traveler food truck today for Taco Tuesday at C. 1949 Florida Beer Garden. The two have teamed up for a weekly Taco Tuesday event as of late. It was my first time visiting either business.

The Taco Traveler is a local food truck that started last year serving tacos inspired from around the world.

To be honest, I’m surprised there are not more taco trucks in Tampa Bay considering how popular Mexican food is and how easy you can blend it with other cuisines. In world history, Mexico was an important connection between the Eastern and Western worlds and many flavors and spices traveled through Mexico to other nations.

Let me mention also that The Taco Traveler isn’t trying to play towards traditional Mexican cuisine, but the dishes it puts out do capture the flavors I want in my food.

The Taco Traveler has a few standard menu items and rotating specials.

On the list were the Korean BBQ Taco, Banh Mi Taco, Tex Mex Taco…to name a few. I went with the Tex Mex Taco which was the Taco Tuesday special ($2) and the Korean BBQ Taco ($4.50 with tax). Both surpassed my expectations and impressed me.

They offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas and the correct answer to that question is always corn tortillas.

The sad part about corn tortillas is when they rip – but that’s what forks are for!

Tacos - Korean BBQ Taco and Tex Mex Taco

The Tex Mex Taco comes with your choice of beef or chicken, cheese, shredded lettuce, house-made salsa, sour cream, and green onions. What impressed me about it was the quality of the beef I ordered and the seasonings of it – it was excellent down to every last bite.

The salsa was also quite tasty.

Then there was the Korean BBQ Taco which came with pickled red cabbage, Korean BBQ, sriracha aioli, kimchi, queso fresco, and green onions. It was INCREDIBLE and I was truly happy with this taco.

I’m a bit of a Korean food snob having lived in Seoul in the past, but this taco was definitely what I wanted and how I imagine a Korean taco would taste. It made me start thinking about all the other possibilities of what can be done using Korean cuisine when applied to other categories.

Can I also say that more places in Tampa should use queso fresco? It’s such an amazing topping to food dishes and you hardly see it on menus here.

The prices were reasonable considering they are a small trailer food truck. I had two tacos and felt pretty full. I would like to try their nachos in the future.

I will definitely return in the future for more tacos.

C. 1949 was also quite an experience. The bar menu was huge and the staff was friendly. They had a ton of local options and the draft beer and local list was filled with tons of choices and varieties and many new craft beer choices that are just recently hitting the market.

It’s obvious that the management of C. 1949 cares about providing quality craft beer to their customers.

The atmosphere at C. 1949 fits Seminole Heights as a neighborhood and has that hipster vibe down.

The lighting and actual decor is modern and the bar itself is spacious, well air-conditioned, and has plenty of seats. Outdoor seating is nice although it was certainly be more enjoyable when Florida cools down a bit.

The live acoustic musician outside was great and fit the overall vibe. C. 1949 seems to be doing lots of events lately and you can see more about it on their website if you’re interested: http://c1949.com/

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Articles Food Events Restaurant News

Brio Tuscan Grille celebrating National Lasagna Day

Full disclosure: I was invited to Brio Tuscan Grille for a tasting of their menu in exchange for this article about their upcoming promotion for National Lasagna Day.

This Thursday, July 27th, Brio Tuscan Grille will celebrate National Lasagna Day early and offer guests 50% off their Mama’s Lasagna Bolognese. Lunch will include a half-portion option with salad and dinner will only offer the full-portion size of the dish.

Here are some quick facts about lasagna – please note that some are disputed by different historians:

  • The name lasagna comes from the Greek word laganon – one of the world’s oldest forms of pasta.
  • The word “lasagna” originally was in reference to the pot that the food was cooked in, not to the actual dish.
  • Modern lasagna was created in Naples, Italy during the Middle Ages – recipes seem to point back to the 13th century.
  • The World’s Largest Lasagna is 5.29 tons, took 10 hour to make, and was made in 2012 in Poland. The lasagna was made in honor of the Italian national soccer team.
  • Recipes for lasagna originally could not have called for tomatoes although they are essential to the dish nowadays because tomatoes were not commonly available until after the Age of Exploration in the 1500s.
  • Fun fact: tomatoes were believed to be poisonous when they were first introduced in Europe. Hard to believe that considering how important tomatoes are to Italian cuisine now.

Brio’s Mama’s Lasagna is a mixture of Bolognese meat sauce, Alfredo, ricotta, and Mozzarella.

Brio Tuscan Grille is located at the International Plaza in Tampa at 2223 N. West Shore Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607. The Tampa location can be reached at (813) 877-3939. Reservations are recommended and can be made online at http://www.brioitalian.com/.

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Articles Restaurant News

Bento Cafe opening in Downtown St. Petersburg

Popular Asian eatery, Bento Cafe, is planning to open their first Tampa Bay location in Downtown St. Petersburg in the Spring of 2018. According to St. Pete Rising the location will feature 80 seats along with outdoor sidewalk tables.

It makes sense considering how much Downtown St. Petersburg has grown over the years, but it is definitely a little disappointing to all the USF – Tampa students that have waited years for a location after frequenting locations at the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and even University of North Florida. Apparently Bento is also looking for 2 locations in Tampa.

Bento Cafe has been hinting at a Tampa Bay location for over 2 years on Facebook and seems to be expanding rapidly across the state over the next year or so. Hopefully in the future Bento will look at the USF area as a potential future investment area.

Bento is known for their fast-casual Asian environment with inspirations from Japanese, Thai, Korean, and other Asian cuisines. 

Their sushi rolls are quite popular and their sashimi rice bowls are a personal favorite as well as their Spicy Cream Chicken. In addition, Bento also sells bubble tea and other popular Asian drinks.

Visit Bento online at http://www.bentocafesushi.com/

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Exploring The Tampa Food Scene (Sponsored)

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Tampa Party Buses. I have been compensated for this post appearing on my website.

The Tampa Bay area food scene is one that begs to be discovered. Whether you’re new to the area, visiting, or a long time resident, there’s sure to be a corner that you’ve yet to experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who leans toward independent, hip eateries or high quality classics, you’re in luck when you’re here. 

The best thing about food in Tampa is the fact that it’s so diverse. This area is a melting pot of cultures, and the restaurant scene shows it. It seems like there is a stream of new destinations popping up too, and this makes it even easier to jump into some tasty dishes. Checking out restaurants and food trucks isn’t the only way to enjoy fresh food in the area, though! 

Farmers Markets

Farmer’s Markets are a great way to get acquainted with the community while simultaneously getting the best selection of mostly organic produce and other goods made by locals. Live music is another positive aspect of shopping at one of these destinations. Not only is the produce super fresh here, but it’s also extremely affordable, and you can feel good knowing that you’re contributing to the local economy whenever you decide to spend your money here. Check out North Tampa Market, Seminole Heights Summer Market, and Fresh Market at Hyde Park Village. 

Community Festivals

Another great way to check out the food scene in Tampa is to attend a local festival. Here, you’ll find vendors cooking up delicious eats all day long. There’s a diverse selection to choose from, too! Some of the more popular events include the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival, Mayors Mac & Cheese Throwdown, Tampa Bay Margarita Festival, Annual Best of Tampa Bay, and Taste of South Tampa. This is only a small listing of what is planned through the year, so be sure to do a bit of research to find something that fits your tastes! 

Throwing a Tampa Party Bus or a limousine into the mix can turn a regular dinner gathering with friends into something truly memorable. It’s easy to plan a fantastic night out when you have professional transportation along for the ride! You’ll be able to check out multiple spots in one night without worrying about who will be the designated driver at the end of the festivities. With counter tops and cup holder, you can enjoy food and drink on board between stops.

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Articles Food Events

City of Tampa celebrates 130th birthday – 13 reasons I love Tampa

Happy Birthday Tampa! Our city turns 130 years old on Saturday, July 15th and will celebrate a day early on Friday, July 14th. The City of Tampa will be handing out FREE Whatever Pops popsicles (while supplies last) from 11AM-2PM at Lykes Gaslight Square Park. The Tampa Bay Lightning & Tampa Bay Buccaneers will also be on hand to help celebrate with give-a-ways, music, and more!

While you are there, be on the lookout for Tampa’s birthday Snapchat filter and share your photos on social media using #TampaTurns130!

RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/787555041425546/

In celebration of 130 years of Tampa, here are 13 things I love about living in Tampa – one for every decade our city has existed:

  1. Walking on the Tampa Riverwalk and stopping along the way at restaurants and bars for a drink with an eventual stop at the Oxford Exchange.
  2. Watching the sunset at Curtis Hixon Park especially after one of the many food, music, art, cocktail, or craft beer festivals happening at the waterfront park with the beautiful University of Tampa in the backdrop.
  3. Relaxing at the MLK Fountain on the University of South Florida – Tampa campus – honestly one of the most peaceful and tranquil places in the middle of a busy public university.
  4. Enjoying Thai food on Sundays when the weather is cool or in the shade in shorts and a tank top at The Wat Thai Temple off Palm River Road. Nothing beats Kanom Krok, Fried Thai Bananas, and $1 Thai Tea. Sitting on the benches there or on the dock waterfront and letting the wind blow in your face.
  5. Dining on the rooftop of The Refinery with friends for special occasions and birthdays and watching their reaction when they taste the food for the first time.
  6. Visiting The Florida Aquarium for the annual SeaGrapes Fine Wine & Food Festival – one of my top events of all time…tons of great food and wine!
  7. Any visit to the Tampa Theatre – basking in the beauty of the outside and inside of the historic building. My favorite experience? Watching Jiro’s Dreams of Sushi on the big screen.
  8. Studying or doing work at Foundation Coffee‘s courtyard in Tampa Heights or viewing the Tampa skyline at The Attic Cafe.
  9. Spending an evening at Anise Gastrobar with friends for delicious cocktails and truffle tator tots. Many of my best nights have started or ended at Anise with friendly bartenders that make great drinks. Not even mention the DJs spinning great music on vinyl.
  10. Indulging in all the Filipino culture and food annually at PhilFest – one of the biggest Filipino cultural celebrations in the country that draws over 10,000 people over 3 days. Lumpia and Carioca take all my money and I do not care! Not to mention the annual hip-hop competition between schools and teams from around the state. Go AFS at USF.
  11. All the great Cuban Sandwiches. Miami has nothing on Tampa. Our annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival puts the others to shame and we can enjoy these excellent sandwiches daily. Don’t forget the Cafe con Leche.
  12. Craft beer. I’ve taken an increased interest over the last few years. Touring Cigar City Brewing was an excellent experience and having an endless supply of great beer around the city and bay area is awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to all of them, but I’m definitely going to try. Also don’t forget all the awesome craft beer festivals that happen nearly ever 2 weeks or so around the bay.
  13. Sunset Music Festival. I love EDM music and it is great that SMF and the promoters keep a constant flow of top notch DJs coming throughout Tampa Bay all year long eventually leading to this annual music fest. My first visit to Sunset Music Festival 2 years ago, where I saw legends like Tiesto, blew me away. Through all the fans and music – there are also great food trucks and food vendors every year at the festival to keep you energized and dancing.

We are pretty lucky to call Tampa our home. The best thing is every year our city gets a little better! Here’s to many more years of growth and success for the City of Tampa and all of our citizens.

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Articles Restaurant News

Oishi Sushi & Thai Thani Shutting Doors July 31st (Channelside)

Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani located in Channelside announced today that they will be closing their business for good on July 31st, 2017 after 13 years of business due to the Channelside demolition occurring in the plaza as the next phase of Jeff Vinik’s plans for Downtown Tampa begin.

They invited their loyal customers to visit them over at Asiatic Street Food + Noodle Bar in Ybor City and to come visit them in Channelside in these finals weeks of operation.

Surviving 13 years in Channelside is certainly an accomplishment for the Oishi Sushi and Thai Thani owners that experienced many challenges from the 2008 Financial Crisis and the boom and slowdown of Channelside District over the years including the closure of the Channelside Cinemas theatre.

Channelside suffered many hardships for local businesses that operated in the plaza over the last decade and went from a busy nightlife and restaurant to scene to an empty part of town – especially as the Tampa Port Authority battled over plans to change the Channelside Plaza.

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Hopefully the owners will open another sushi and Thai restaurant in the future and bring their recipes to the food scene again.