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Jamie Oliver, squeezed shoppers, and meat-free Thursdays

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By Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca

CBC Arts has posted a fantastic Q&A with celebrated chef Jamie Oliver. Some of the excellent questions submitted by CBCNews.ca readers included: if you had the power to eliminate one "food" from the marketplace, what would it be? What do you make of the rise of the gastropub? And, what is your most often used herb/spice other than salt and pepper? Read Oliver's answers to these and other questions here.

On our consumer site, we take a look at the effect crowded shelves have on consumer behaviour. Researcher Juliet Zhu theorizes that when shopping in a crowded store, consumers seek out variety.

"When consumers are confined, either through a narrow aisle or crowding, they feel like their freedom is being constrained," Zhu said. "One such demonstration is choosing more varied options, such as different flavoured yogurt or candies, as opposed to the typical flavour they always choose."

Also this week, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association released a study suggesting re-usable bags may pose health risks. WWF spokesman Steven Price responded, noting consumers could eliminate the threat by washing the bags.

"It's a valid point, but I don't think we need to go back to disposing billions of plastic bags across Canada," Price told the Canadian Press. "We need to take care of the objectives, which is to be safe and healthy, so let's wash the bags."

Finally, the city of Ghent in Belgium has proclaimed Thursdays to be meat-free days.

City councillor Tom Balthazar, said "There's nothing compulsory. We just want to be a city that promotes sustainable and healthy living."

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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