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Michelle Obama on Sesame Street, coffee spared tax hike, chocolate cures stress

• Michelle Obama dropped by Sesame Street on the show’s 40th anniversary to chat with a basket of anthropomorphic vegetables about the importance of healthy eating. Obama, who was joined by Elmo and Big Bird (both look remarkably fresh for 40), talked about how tomatoes, carrots and lettuce make it from field to table. In an interview afterward, the First Lady said that the experience was “probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.” [Telegraph]

• Retreating from the potential wrath of a coffee-addicted citizenry, the McGuinty Liberals have announced new exemptions from Ontario’s harmonized sales tax (HST). A Tim Hortons double-double will continue to incur only the five per cent GST. Venti frappuccinos from Starbucks, however, are a different story, since restaurant items costing more than $4 will face the full 13 per cent tax. Newspapers also get an exemption previously extended only to books, feminine hygiene products, diapers, children’s clothing and kids’ booster seats. [Toronto Star]

• Australian scientists have spent the past 20 years developing a super-apple that can last for four months in a fridge or 14 days on a countertop. Though it could use a more palatable name, like Ida Red or Jonamac, the RS103-130 is disease resistant, requires few or no fungicides (which could save apple growers millions in costly spraying) and scores well in taste tests. [Independent]

• The woman at the helm of Bon Appétit, Barbara Fairchild, started at the magazine in 1978 and has seen the industry change drastically. Fighting to avoid the fate of Condé Nast publication Gourmet, Fairchild is keeping Bon Appétit future-focused, with blogs, a mail-order business selling wine, and plans for a TV show. But print is still Fairchild’s main course: “Going through the pages of a magazine is still a very lush experience,” she says, pointing out such features in the December issue as the Latino Hanukkah menu and a Christmas cookie spread that is “unlike any story you have seen anywhere.” [L.A. Times]

• In news that will surprise exactly no one, scientists at the Nestlé Research Center in Lausanne have confirmed that dark chocolate is a stress reliever. “Higher anxiety” subjects were found to have lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies after they ate about one and a half ounces of the semi-sweet treat every day for a two-week period. Next up on the Nestlé scientists’ schedule: proving that Nesquik is the elixir of eternal youth. [UPI]

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