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Between Healthy Fries And Guilt-Free #FatSwissGirls

“They can come and control me. I’ll just keep on making delicious fries!'
“They can come and control me. I’ll just keep on making delicious fries!"


The Western world isn't short of public enemies right now. There are, of course, the usual suspects: Putin, Assad, even Mark Zuckerberg seems to have joined the club. But there's another, more discreet nemesis that may loom closer than the rest: acrylamide, a natural chemical that's produced as part of the cooking process for certain foods.

You can find it in coffee (it's produced during the roasting process), French fries and bread. And though the science remains inconclusive, some researchers now consider as a potential carcinogen. Acrylamide is the reason why coffee in California will soon come with a consumer warning about cancer. It's also the reason why fries in Germany — or pommes frites, as they call them — won't be as crunchy anymore.

Yes, starting this week, new European Union legislation comes into force imposing benchmark levels in a bid to reduce the amount of acrylamide in various products, from muesli and biscuits to coffee. For fries, (French and otherwise) that means blanching them before frying, and frying them at lower temperatures.

Bad news for people who like their fries extra-crispy — or even brown, as the German newspaper Die Welt reports. But then again, how exactly do they plan to enforce it?

"They can come and control me," Raimund Ostendorp, a popular German chef who now owns a takeaway in Bochum, in the Ruhr district, told the newspaper. "I'll just keep on making delicious fries. Who are they going to send? The frying squad?"

There are obvious benefits to the fact that politicians are paying more attention to what lands in our plates. But there's always the risk of overdoing it: Too much control, and people may instead decide to rebel, and take things in the opposite direction.

A popular new Instagram account from Switzerland — the land of cheeses and chocolate — may be a case in point. As noted recently in the the Swiss daily Le Temps, the account celebrates an #unhealthylifestyle as a reaction to the "omnipresence of stereotypes online" and "overrepresentation of a lifestyle based on happiness and slenderness."

Sure, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek. But there's also a real message involved, according to Agathe Hauser, the 26-year-old comedian behind the @Swissfatgirls Instagram account. "Let's stop feeling guilty," she told the paper. "Let's enjoy life to the fullest and accept that nobody's perfect."

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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