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Watch Your Mouth: Why Do We Shoplift Meat and Cheese? Meatlifting: The Economics of Shoplifting Meat and Cheese

Meat and cheese tops the charts of shoplifted items. Why do we purloin sirloin and cop Camembert?


This summer, a Pennsylvania man was caught stuffing a pork loin down his pants. Men have also recently slid sirloins into their shorts in South Carolina, Florida, and Australia. Two women rolled off with wheels of gouda from Whole Foods Market in June. An organized gang in Florida drove away with seven tractor-trailers worth of cucumbers, tomatoes, and frozen meat in March. A Texas sting, “Operation Meat Locker,” busted up a ring of modern cattle rustlers who had been shoplifting retail cuts of beef and selling them to local restaurants.

The five-finger discount isn't just showing up on the police beat—it's also reasserted itself more broadly in pop culture. In The New Yorker’s “Money Issue,” Miranda July writes that stealing requires a kind of Zen oneness akin to horse whispering or surfing (she ate through early adulthood by lifting soy products from the supermarket). Shoplifting from American Apparel is practically required reading for Generation Ambivalent. Wendy loses Lucy after unsuccessfully trying to steal dog food. Eater even has a column devoted to “Shit People Steal.”

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Watch Your Mouth: Candy O’Clock

Did daylight savings time change at the behest of the candy lobby?


When American kids prowl the streets next week in search of tiny Tootsie Rolls, baby Baby Ruths, and other child-sized, brand-name treats, they’ll probably set off before the sun sets. Trick-or-treaters can venture out in daylight hours thanks to the work of Congress, which extended Daylight Saving Time four years ago in part to mediate the dangers of night-time trick-or-treating. The move inspired its own urban legend: This was a concerted effort by food marketing lobbyists to reshape time, and stick more candies into kids’ hands.

Deliberately making “clock time" out of sync with “sun time” used to be the stuff of social and scientific satire. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin wrote that burning candles all night would afford Paris a great “savings.” By the 20th century, though, the United States took the issue seriously, enacting temporary changes during World Wars I and II in an effort to save precious resources. Capitalists took notice. The petroleum industry lobbied to reintroduce the shift permanently, but farmers opposed the measure: They wanted neither to lose an hour of early morning light nor mess up their herd’s regular milking times. Petroleum won. Daylight Savings Time took effect in 1966 as part of the Uniform Time Act. It was six months long.

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Watch Your Mouth: The Protest Food of Occupy Wall Street Occupy Wall Street and the Protest Food of Our Generation

The history of countercultural movements can be told through their stomachs. When will this one find its signature protest dish?

Occupy Wall Street is entering its fourth week of protesting corporate greed from New York City’s Zuccotti Park. Last week, the movement’s ranks swelled above 10,000. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. From the start, Occupy Wall Street’s Food Committee has taken on the logistical challenge of feeding its ever-growing participants by calling for donations, encouraging newcomers to bring food to share, and extolling the virtues of the quick and portable peanut butter sandwich. But the movement has yet to find its signature dish.

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Watch Your Mouth: What Should Food Stamps Subsidize? Should Food Stamps Pay For Junk Food?

The federal food stamp program is about alleviating poverty, not discouraging obesity, so farmers' markets or fatty snacks are both fair game.


Correction appended

In the spring of 1961, Alderson Muncy, a miner from West Virginia, traveled 22 miles to a grocery store where the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture awaited his arrival with a television crew and $95 in food stamps. The food allowance would need to cover meals for the jobless man, his wife, and their 13 children for a month. As Muncy loaded up his Jeep for the trip home, The New York Times reported that he had a shopping cart full of groceries “prominently including vanilla wafers and two boxes of cake mix.”

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Watch Your Mouth: When to Taste—or Toss—Your Leftovers

Federal officials warn you to toss food that's been unrefrigerated for more than four hours. The advice stems from a broth full of Listeria.

Your fridge is off. Your lights are out. Chances are you’re not reading this.

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Watch Your Mouth: Eat Lightly and Carry a Big Fork How Big Forks and Heavy Bowls Help You Eat Less

Bigger forks and heavier bowls might sound supersized, but they could actually cut down on portion sizes.

Between the opening nights of All About Eve and Mean Girls, an average moviegoer’s portion of popcorn increased sevenfold. Starbucks' gut-busting Trenta is more than double the size of its original tall paper cup. The surface area of an average dinner plate is as much as 36 percent larger than it was in 1960. Even some recipes in the most recent edition of The Joy of Cooking, the staple of middle-class kitchens everywhere, expanded 42 percent from their 1931 versions.

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