News Roundup: Political Diets, Dangerous Fish, Kids' Toys Uproars & More

After the media reported on Mitt Romney pumping his own gas, we thought the former Presidential nominee had drifted out of the public eye for good. Not so, thanks to two controversial meals he has eaten since the election. Along with Romney, the media dissected Newark Mayor Cory Booker's food-stamp diet this week, fish are potentially more dangerous than we thought and Olive Garden reacts to negative Obamacare press. Plus a concerned sister takes to the internet to petition for a boy-friendly Easy-Bake Oven.

Having lunch with President Obama may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, unless you're the guy who challenged him for office — and lost. This week, President Obama invited Mitt Romney to the White House for a photo-op and not much more, according to Politico. The lunch spurred all sorts of speculation about what the two men discussed and what their future relationship, if any, will be. For a completely fictional transcript of the lunch (including talk about their shared love of brownies and "Lisztomania") turn to The New Yorker.

White House lunch aside, it was Romney's impromptu Thanksgiving meal that caused the true media frenzy. The former candidate reportedly ordered Boston Market for his family since there were too many kids around to cook a lavish Thanksgiving meal. This much-discussed detail was wedged amongst other anecdotes of Romney visiting Disneyland and opening his own car doors as part of a Washington Post piece on Romney's post-election life.

The media also highlighted Newark Mayor Cory Booker's diet this week as the mayor challenges himself to live on SNAP (a.k.a food stamps) for a week. Booker's food stamp test is a response to a twitter conversation he had with one of his followers. To fit his new budget — approximately $33/week — the mayor has forgone caffeine and fresh vegetables, but regrets having passed up eggs and admitted to eating nothing for a while.

In restaurant news, Olive Garden claims the media has depressed its earnings as a result of negative press coverage over its approach to Obamacare. The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster has mentioned that he will have to make some full-time employees part-time workers in order to reduce costs as a result of the health care law. After the media covered this, the chain is reporting lower earning estimates for fiscal year 2013.

While Olive Garden joins Papa John's in complaining about the ramifications of Obamacare, Boston restaurants are dealing with an ongoing scandal about mislabeling fish. Last year, the Boston Globe published an expose about restaurants in the Boston area passing off cheap farmed fish for their more expensive wild counterparts. The Globe revisited many of these restaurants that were singled out for mislabeling and found, through DNA testing, that some of the restaurants were still serving customers falsely identified seafood. Several restaurants blamed suppliers, but the exposé is a valuable reminder that there is little transparency when it comes to seafood.

Knowing what fish you're eating is clearly necessary to make sustainable choices, but it's also important in regard to your mercury intake. A new study shows that mercury levels in fish are higher than previously thought. But that doesn't mean you should give up on fish entirely. Eating more cod and sardines and reducing intake of tuna, swordfish and lobster will help you avoid mercury while still reaping the nutritional benefits of seafood.

This week in food politics wraps up with a heartwarming story about a 13-year-old girl who started a petition on to get Hasbro, maker of Easy-Bake Oven, to stop advertising to girls exclusively. She wants her younger brother and any other young aspiring male chefs to feel like Easy-Bake Ovens are acceptable toys for any gender. So far the petition has received over 30,000 signatures. Join the cause!