A spate of gastrointestinal illnesses at Yosemite National Park has spurred a federal investigation. The company that runs the foodservice, Aramark, is taking a wait and see position.

Aramark, with its headquarters in Philadelphia, has had numerous food safety issues in recent years at sports stadiums, including the stadium complex where the Kansas City Chiefs play, and other venues. Local television news stations near Yosemite reported that Aramark has received numerous complaints from visitors about poor food quality, shuttle service and other services since it began managing the park’s concessions four years ago.

A spokesman for the company down played
Continue Reading Aramark investigated in apparent norovirus outbreak at Yosemite

Death Valley National Park just celebrated the 100th anniversary of the world’s hottest day ever recorded (134 degrees F). With recent temperatures nearly matching that record, visitors have allegedly been descending on the park to try frying eggs in the heat, including directly on the sidewalks and rocks, prompting the park staff to take to Facebook to ask visitors to stop. The trend apparently started after a park employee fried an egg inside a covered skillet in a video posted to YouTube on June 29. Several visitors attempted to imitate the video in the days that followed, though not all
Continue Reading Death Valley National Park Asks Visitors to Stop Egg-Cooking Stunts

In addition to cameras, a group touring Yellowstone National Park last month brought an unwanted visitor to the area in the form of a foodborne virus. Many members of the group arrived complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms, which were later determined to have been caused by norovirus. The virus, which is transmitted via the fecal-oral route spread to others in the park, eventually sickening more than 100 employees and 50 visitors in mid to late June. At least 50 illnesses were also reported among employees at neighboring Grand Teton National Park. As of Tuesday, however, no new norovirus cases had been
Continue Reading Norovirus Outbreak in NW Wyoming 'Tapering Off' After Sickening over 200

A recent initiative within the National Park Service seeks to bring its food offerings in line with its mission of environmental preservation. The Institute at Golden Gate notes while “publicly protected lands provide visitors with a connection to places and their natural environment, history and culture,” it is often the case that “the quality and type of food served does not contribute to a park’s environmental mission or unique sense of place.”  With an estimated 286 million people visiting national parks each year, the parks have the ability “to serve as powerful symbolic and economic drivers of the national movement
Continue Reading Food for the Parks: Local Food in America’s National Parks

Sometime around Election Day 2008, I heard the Corrigan Brothers singing “There is no one more Irish than Barack Obama.”

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I remember thinking: “Oh, that explains it.”

For someone like myself, who looks at politics in a fairly cold and calculating sort of way, the fascinating fact about 2008 was that just four years earlier President Obama was a back-bencher in the Illinois State Senate.

The odds against anyone of the 7,382 people who began 2004 serving in one of our 50 state legislative bodies ending up being elected President of the United States in 2008 was infinitesimal.   

Yet

Continue Reading Letter From The Editor: 'Luck of the Irish'