Friday, March 27, 2015

Eggs, wine and smacked with a Yelp

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 10:41 AM

click to enlarge EASTBOUND AND DOWN: The Arkansas Times Bandit. - VINCE GRIFFIN
  • Vince Griffin
  • EASTBOUND AND DOWN: The Arkansas Times Bandit.

It's your Friday Five Open Line, random hodgepodge edition.

*Of Wine and Eggs:  The talk around the Times office this morning is all about California wine and a bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Douglas (R-Bentonville) that would effectively ban the import of said hooch. Why? Well it seems those commies out in Cali think that the eggs they eat should come from chickens that can extend their wings and turn around in their cages. When it comes to chickens, Arkansas is known more for our meat production (ranking in the top three states in young chickens and broilers), but as recently as 2009 we were also in the top 10 egg producing states in the union.

So why are these California restrictions such a big deal? Well, to comply with the new regulations (which were approved by more than 60% of California voters), laying hens will require about double the current cage space. Bigger cages mean new investment in infrastructure — the chicken houses have to get bigger, more numerous or flocks have to get smaller. None of those three things appeal to the profit-minded commodity egg farmers of the Natural State. 

Egg prices are up everywhere, but they're way up in California. In addition, California egg production is down, as most farmers have elected to raise fewer hens in existing cages. Thus, the proposed bill that bans wine imports from states that cause a "substantial" impact on Arkansas agriculture. To be decided, of course, by the secretary of agriculture. Those of you who remember the Arkansas Wine Wars on this blog a few years back understand that folks are not inclined to exclusively use our local wines — and because of the importance of terrain and climate to grape-growing and wine-making, there are just simply wines that taste better from out of state.

Of course, there are always local, free-range eggs. I get mine from a variety of sources and they don't cost much more than a standard dozen. As for the California wine, do not fret: We're already in the planning stages of an Arkansas Times Bootlegging series, sort of like a subscription service for illicit reds, whites and sparkling wines. See the canary yellow Camaro concept car above, and watch ol' bandit run.

*Yelp says nope:  It's a sad day for me when I have to agree with something that Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman says. I despise Yelp. They're shady, exploitative and have been known to subject local businesses to something akin to blackmail involving how reviews get posted to the site. But then Stoppelman comes out and takes a stand against discrimination and suddenly I've got to give the guy some credit. That's how bad things have gotten in our state government — even the food review devil thinks we're terrible people. Coming soon: one star reviews of every anti-LGBTQ person in state government.

*Food and Farm: Our first issue of Arkansas Food and Farm is out right now, and I'm really happy with it. We collected some great recipes and stories from all around the state to celebrate the return of spring. Copies are at local restaurants, grocery stores and we'll have them at farmers markets everywhere as they open.

*Best things I ate this week: The bone marrow appetizer at Piro is tasty, and it's nice to see it pop up on a local menu. All three Damgoode brews on tap now are worth drinking.

*The Big Swill: If you haven't been keeping up with Max's "Big Swill" tracking, I suggest you do so. Check out his column this week

Over to you, food folks. The comments section is all for you. Let us know what kind of California wine you want us to bring back for you — we're outfitting the big rig now and we don't think Buford T. Justice (or even Jason Rapert) can catch our Catfish Camaro

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