You make beer. From grain. You think, what to do with the grain after it's been boiled for a while? Hey, don't pigs eat grain? Yes, they do, as do other farm animals. And so brewers have been giving brewery waste products, nice and mushy like Irish oatmeal, to farmers since, oh, Russell Crowe was building an ark or something. And so far as anyone can seem to figure out, the number of health problems this has caused (as opposed to decades of perfectly legal antibiotics abuse, say) is basically zero.
So to combat this scourge of sensible sustainability with no downside, the FDA is about to ban recycling spent grains into animal feed unless the grains have been purified in some expensively technological way. (True, the grains don't strictly boil in the brewing process, where temperatures are in the range of 160 degrees, but again, there's no apparent case of this being a problem ever.) Of course, big farms and big brewers can afford to put in the equipment to dry, test, and package this stuff, so as often happens, regulation has the purely coincidental side effect of favoring big, well-connected business and harassing little guys. Reason and Boing Boing have more on this, but the reason I bring it up today is that you have exactly today to go to the FDA site and politely suggest that fighting forms of sustainability that have existed since the dawn of drinking is kind of a poor choice of priorities. It's virtually impossible to find where you can actually leave a comment, citizens, so here's the link. Protest before midnight tonight!
And in other food news . . .
• Speaking of large breweries muscling out the smaller guys, Wrigley Field's beer scene improves with Anheuser-Busch getting Goose Island in there, but a little bit of the old Chicago dies as it comes at the price of squeezing out Old Style.
• I'm no fan of lists that try to make local chefs into celebrity-fashion types, but Zagat's annual Chicago 30 Under 30 list is always a good look at who's up and coming on the scene (and an instant dossier/cheat sheet for journalists to find out some background on a new name). See if you can spot the three who've already participated in our Key Ingredient series (hint: all three are pastry chefs).
• And speaking of lists, Thrillist has had a couple of really solid ones lately (disclosure: I may have recommended both of the authors to them). Titus Ruscitti, who has really shifted into high gear recently as the explorer of our taco scene, offered this guide to ten lesser-known taco spots around town, while Dennis Lee finds bright spots in the Loop's sometimes sad food scene here. Be sure and do what everyone does in response to a best-X-in-Y list: leave them a comment beginning "How could you forget . . ."