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As I noted on Friday, the next two weeks are going to create a bit of a logistical challenge for MNB...but hopefully we’re going to turn it into an opportunity.

As you read this, I am probably somewhere over the Pacific, traveling to Australia, where I am going to be moderating and speaking at the NACS Global Forum in Sydney. (From there I am going to London for the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum.) But I am going to keep posting MNB, even at unusual hours and odd frequencies, and I thank you in advance for your patience...

The great thing about an extended airplane flight is that I get to catch up on my reading...

There is a fascinating and long - 3,000 words - piece in Time about the rise of the celebrity chef. It is worth reading, and can be found here.

The article covers a lot of territory, but here are the main points that grabbed our attention.

• It is ironic that a time when it could be argued that many people have unhealthy diets and do less home cooking than at any time in recent history (with a slight reversal taking place only because the recession created certain economic imperatives), people spend more time watching other people cook than ever, and spend plenty of money on products and establishments made famous by mass media.

• Some chefs seem to be about celebrity, money and power. Others seem to take their responsibilities seriously, understanding that they have the ability to help people understand the importance of health and nutrition, to improve people’s diets, and connect people in fundamental ways to the things they put in their bodies. (Don’t know about you, but Jamie Oliver looks like he’d be a lot more fun to spend time with than Gordon Ramsey.)

• Food retailers need to take this trend seriously. Even people who eat Pop Tarts for breakfast are watching Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse cook on television, and this creates an opportunity to move them up, to sell them more and better stuff. You’ve got to be credible, you’ve got to make it accessible, but the opportunity is there once one decides not to always cater to the lowest common denominator.

Good thing this fellow has job security...

We’re still more than a week away from the Global Summit of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) in London, but it caught my eye that one of the summit’s keynote speakers, Prince Charles - the heir to the British throne and the future head of the Church of England - said last week in a speech about environmental issues that the world would be in better shape if it followed Islamic spiritual principles.

According to The Mail, the Prince of Wales “argued that man's destruction of the world was contrary to the scriptures of all religions - but particularly those of Islam. He said the current 'division' between man and nature had been caused not just by industrialisation, but also by our attitude to the environment - which goes against the grain of 'sacred traditions'.”

The prince, according to the story, “was speaking to an audience of scholars at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies - which attempts to encourage a better understanding of the culture and civilisation of the religion.” He was speaking “about his own study of the Koran which, he said, tells its followers that there is 'no separation between man and nature' and says we must always live within our environment's limits.”

Perhaps the prince is to be commended for a certain diversity of thought and for being willing to say what most others would not. But can you imagine what would happen these days if a politician facing re-election made such a statement?

Prince Charles is scheduled to make the opening keynote address - on the subject of “Food Within Nature’s Limits” - at the CGF Summit scheduled to take place in London June 23-25. It’ll be interesting to see if he brings up Islamic religious principles to an audience made up almost completely of hard-nosed capitalists.

I’m thinking probably not. But we’ll see.

World Cup Fever...

Since I’m going to spend the next two weeks outside the US, I guess I’d better start learning about the World Cup, something about which I know next to nothing. here’s what I do know.

• We call it soccer. Everybody else calls it football.

• The US tied the UK 1-1 over the weekend, which apparently is almost as good as a win, especially in psychological terms.

And that’s about it.

On the other hand, I sort of understand the infield fly rule, which not everyone can say.

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