A Few Choice Food Moments From the Mayoral Campaign

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Donovan's
Who politicked over that burger?
We'd bet our last cronut that it'd be hard to find a New Yorker undecided in this election, but if you are a member of that elusive breed -- and you haven't been to the ballot box yet -- consider voting with your stomach.

Herewith, a few choice food- and drink-related moments from each campaign to help you today at the polls.

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Raaka, the Brooklyn-Based Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Maker

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Raaka
If it seems early for us to be hawking "perfect holiday presents," keep in mind that the Christmas commercials are already airing, department stores are telling us that the shoes we want for ourselves are actually great gifts for other people, and here in New York, the Winter Village at Bryant Park, packed with more than 125 boutique-style pop-up shops, opened last week. So even though we haven't even hit Thanksgiving, the holiday season is here, whether you're ready for it or not. And if you're walking through that Winter Village, feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the sheepskin gloves and crafty jewelry, consider going with a gift (or, um, indulgence for yourself) that few will find fault with: chocolate.

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Readers Discuss the Effects of SNAP Cuts

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NYCCAH
On Friday, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) absorbed a major revenue cut, impacting thousands of people who can't afford enough food across the metro area and state. The benefit loss axes "about $319 in groceries per year -- or $29 per month -- from each family of three depending on the government program to put food on the table," Deena Shanker reported, a consequence that drew hunger organizations from across the city to protest.

Readers took to the comments to discuss the cuts, debating each other over how much they really matter.

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SNAP Cuts Start Today

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NYCCAH
Unfortunately for the 1.8 million New York City residents relying on SNAP benefits, the protests of organizations like New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCAAH) and political advocates like mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney have gone unheeded. Beginning today, cuts enacted by Congress and President Obama in 2010 will take effect, cutting about $319 in groceries per year -- or $29 per month -- from each family of three depending on the government program to put food on the table.

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Sweet Dreams, a Tale of Rwanda's Redemption Through Ice Cream, Opens Friday

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Sweet Dreams
There are few sure paths to peace and happiness, but a remarkable group of Rwandan women have found one that seems to be working: music and ice cream. Sweet Dreams, a documentary that follows Rwanda's first and only all-women's drumming troupe and ice cream shop, tells the story of the Hutu and Tutsi women, who joined together after the 1994 Rwandan genocide to partner with Brooklyn's Blue Marble Ice Cream and embark on a journey of peace, independence, and possibility.

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Reader: Andy Ricker's Argument Against Free Rice is the Worst Argument Ever

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epSos.de via Flickr
Should rice always be free?
It's been just over 24 hours since we posted our interview with Pok Pok's Andy Ricker, and in it, the chef made his case for not serving free rice: "You're keeping your food cost below 30 percent, so if you're charging $7 for a giant plate of food, something has to give: labor, rent, or food," he told us. "Most places aren't going to be buying natural meats, organic vegetables, top-grade seafood, or even top-grade rice. We don't make a big deal about it, but we use all-natural meat and high-quality ingredients, and we pay a fair living wage to employees. High-quality jasmine rice from Thailand costs more than $1 a pound, and you have to be careful in how you prepare it. We don't charge that much money for our food, so I don't feel bad about charging $2 or $3 for rice. And to top it off, in Asia, you pay for rice. Free rice is an American invention."

But it didn't take long for someone to take issue with that line of reasoning.

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New Yorkers--Including Mayoral Candidate Bill de Blasio--Fight Impending SNAP Cuts

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Bill de Blasio via Facebook
As election draws closer--and the federal government goes back to work--questions linger for hungry New Yorkers
Though it already seems like ages ago, we once had a semi-functioning federal government. And before it closed down entirely for 16 days, that government was debating cutting SNAP benefits for millions of dependent hungry Americans--a fight that should start up again now that Washington is back in action.

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Readers Weigh in on the 10 Best Pizzas in NYC

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Don Antonio by Starita
Don Antonio by Starita made the list of the 10 best pizzas in NYC
Is there any food New Yorkers are more passionate about than pizza? We kind of doubt it. This iconic staple incites spirited debate among friends over which parlor serves the best slice, what shop is worth the train ride, and which places should be skipped except in the most desperate (drunken) situations. And even suggesting that we aren't the standard-bearers when it comes to pies is enough to set off a litany of loud complaints from residents all over the city.

So we expected readers to come forward with opinions on Zachary Feldman's list of the 10 best pizzas in NYC--and we weren't disappointed.

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Readers Find Bread Ties in Food, Cigarettes in Beer

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via Facebook
Yesterday, Zachary Feldman reported that teen chef Greg Grossman took to Facebook to complain about a piece of glass he found in his food at a recent soft opening of a popular Chinese restaurant, and Joe Dobias promptly took him to task for posting his woes on social media rather than discussing the incident with the restaurant directly.

The incident got us wondering, though, what's the strangest thing that's ever accidentally been served in a plate of food?

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Five Fast Casual Concepts That Need To Happen

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Courtesy Umami Burger via Facebook
Any one of these ideas could be the next Umami Burger--right?
It seems that anyone with a bankroll and a big idea is flocking to the fast casual scene nowadays. And why not? Why go in on a fast food franchise and take orders when you can be your own Colonel, Ray Kroc, or Steve Ells rolled up into one? In the last month alone I've discovered a place that dolls up hot potatoes, a joint that hawks donut-shaped burgers, and a counter with a kitchen that offers just four types of taquitos. Starting your own fast casual place means you get to make--and break--all the rules. After scouring Fastcasual.com and getting up to speed on what excites customers, I've come up with a few ideas that are just waiting to find a home. Potential investors, you know where to find me.

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