Fruit activists are planting everywhere. »
It’s bad. It’s not so bad. Who knows? »
AquAdvantage has been in development for nearly two decades. »
Getting empowered in the store and at the stove. »
Especially when the power’s out. »
For several years now, the food-service company Bon Appétit has been celebrating Earth Day with an event dubbed Low Carbon Diet Day. The idea is to try to reduce your food's carbon footprint by buying, preparing, and eating locally or more efficiently produced food.
This year, the company generated carbon-friendly recipes: an almond-fruit smoothie, a cheeseless pizza, and an edamame burger with carrot-peel topping. (Almonds, for example, may not be local to where you live, but the production of almond milk generates fewer greenhouse gases than cow’s milk.) Check ‘em out!
From the cutting edge of science comes this wacky scent report: Cells throughout our bodies have the same odor receptors as those in our noses.
“It opens the door to questions about whether the heart, for instance, ‘smells’ that fresh-brewed cup of coffee or cinnamon bun,” reported the website Science Daily.
The research field even has a name: sensomics, which “focuses on understanding exactly how the mouth and the nose sense key aroma, taste and texture compounds in foods, especially comfort foods like chocolate and roasted coffee.”
In your freezer, on your plants, and in your meat. »
Which diet are you following these days? »
Nothing like the old financial shell game. »
What do you want to be remembered for? Your job, or your cooking? »
Tomatoes, ag gags, and antibiotics. »
Wendell Pierce sells produce in New Orleans, and the city of Seattle plants edibles. »
The April 7 issue offered a sprinkling of articles about food politics: Mark Bittman and his take on healthful fast food, Camas Davis and her Portland Meat Collective, and Bill Heavey and his efforts to hunt, kill, and cook his own dinner.
The rest of the issue, however, followed glossy magazine pattern: restaurants and chefs, bars and drinks, trendy travel destinations, and other foodie favorites. The best of these is an esoteric profile of a maker of high-end spice blends that gives an entertaining history of the spice trade.
Lately, we’ve noticed, a number of Culinate contributors have popped up on Kickstarter, raising funds for various projects. Former blogger Sarah Gilbert pulled in funding for her parenting magazine, Stealing Time. Former columnist Matthew Amster-Burton got his latest book project, a memoir about eating in Japan, greenlighted via the site.
Even if most Kickstarter projects focus on tech products, the site’s Food category is a busy one, with hopefuls plugging everything from homemade sauce to beer to cookbooks to urban-farming projects. Entrepreneurs beware, however; not every project gets funded, of course, including a recent attempt at drumming up cash for Food Politic magazine.
Skip it in favor of whole milk. »
Back in 2005, National Public Radio ran a now-classic April Fool’s news story about how New England's untapped maple trees were exploding.
As a result, United States maple syrup production hit a new high in 2011. In Vermont, the top-producing state, sap yield per tap has risen over the past decade.
As for that bacon-flavored mouthwash to go with your pancakes? That’s one of this year's fooled-ya gags.
Earlier this month, the Whole Foods grocery chain announced that, by 2018, it would label all genetically modified food sold in its stores.
Reaction to the announcement was mixed. The New York Times editorial board didn't think much of the idea, pointing out that many manufacturers already label their products as GMO-free, and that anything certified organic must also be GMO-free. The website DailyFinance, however, opined that Whole Foods is a trendsetter, and that where it goes, other grocers will follow.
And if you’re not sure what the whole GMO-labeling thing is all about, check out the recent feature in E — The Environmental Magazine from food-politics activist Dan Imhoff, spelling out the history of the GMO wars.
In a recent Big City column in the New York Times, Ginia Bellafante offered an unusual but compelling historical comparison: between New York City’s handling of the Typhoid Mary situation back in the early 1900s, and the city’s current attempts to regulate soda consumption.
Bellafante’s take? That the city is making the same mistake twice: first by essentially locking up typhoid carrier Mary Mallon for the rest of her life, and second by trying to prevent soda from being sold in large cups. Both cases revolve around diseases of poverty, and in both, the city has attempted a narrow solution instead of addressing the vast underlying problem:
The articulated goal should not simply be to create a population of poor people who are thin, but to create a population of poor people who are less poor. . . . It is hard not to wonder whether Mr. Bloomberg’s soda-limit initiative might have garnered more enthusiasm . . . if it had been delivered within the context of a more consistent and compassionate message about the city’s commitment to the underserved.
How we cooked, and how we drink. »
The folks who made “Food, Inc.” have a new documentary out. Titled "A Place at the Table" — and subtitled “One Nation. Underfed.” — the film studies America’s shameful inability to feed itself, both in quantity and in quality. It’s showing in limited release, but you can also download it from iTunes and watch it on demand. And you can buy the companion book, take action online, and get food assistance if you need it.
Conventional seed may not work out so well in an organic garden. »
Mark Bittman and Marion Nestle have different opinions about it, though. »
To be precise, the study concluded that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in meat and saturated fat benefits cardiovascular health. The diet is not a low-fat diet, although high-fat dairy products as well as heavily fried and sugared foods are not allowed. Olive oil, fish, and nuts are the fatty stars here.
Wondering if you already follow a Mediterranean diet? The New York Times has an interactive quiz you can take to find out. Meanwhile, excited scientists are hoping the study sparks other comprehensive diet studies.
Two new publications devoted to food politics are getting underway this spring.
The second, Modern Farmer, is “a print quarterly, website, event series and online marketplace for people who care about where their food comes from.” The first issue is due out in April; in the meantime, the website is a placeholder with a subscription page.
And, of course, there’s always the original food-politics news website: Food Politics, run by Marion Nestle.
A new study has documented the retreat of Midwestern grasslands under fields of corn and soy. This is good news for farmers, who are earning good prices for their crops, but bad news for wildlife (due to habitat loss) and the environment (due to soil erosion):
The images show that farmers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska converted 1.3 million acres of grassland into soybean and corn production between 2006 and 2011.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case between Monsanto and a farmer who refused to buy new engineered seeds from the company each year. Observers agree that the court seems likely to favor Monsanto, on the grounds of supporting patent rights:
Justice Breyer seemed in a particularly playful mood on Tuesday. At one point he alluded to a notorious line from a 1927 opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in which Holmes sought to justify the forced sterilization of a woman with mental disabilities. (“Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” Justice Holmes wrote.) “There are three generations of seeds,” Justice Breyer said, to knowing chuckles. “Maybe three generations of seeds is enough.”
Horse meat, junk food, liquid chicken, and gluten research. »
A two-year report dings pretty much every fish vendor in the U.S. »
From Kathleen Flinn, Melissa Clark, Martha Stewart, and more. »
What does 200 calories look like on your plate? »
You can make many an argument against genetically modified seeds, including health, the environment, and concerns about agribusiness monopolies. But good ol’ capitalism may turn out to be the real GMO nemesis.
As Farmers Weekly recently reported, some U.S. farmers are rethinking GM seeds, given their high cost and dwindling yields:
“It’s all about cost benefit analysis,” said economist Dan Basse, president of American agricultural research company AgResource. “Farmers are paying extra for the technology but have seen yields which are no better than 10 years ago. They’re starting to wonder why they’re spending extra money on the technology.”
The ice-cream company Ben & Jerry's is making a similar calculation. According to Food Navigator, the company studied recent research and concluded that not only are GM seeds more expensive than conventional seeds, but the problem of pesticide resistance means greater herbicide use and lower yields. So B&J’s has announced that, by the end of 2013, it will phase out all GM products.
People choose to eat organic food for all kinds of reasons, ranging from health to the environment to supporting local farmers. But as the Oregonian noted recently, some folks choose organic for religious reasons.
These spiritual traditions include eating seasonally (Ayurvedic), mindful eating (Zen Buddhist), being in tune with the planet (Catholic), caring for the earth (Jewish), ecological interdependence (Native American), and good intentions (pagan).
And don’t forget, reminds the pagan Rose Stevens, to honor the deaths of all the things you eat, whether plant or animal, because you might be reincarnated as dinner one day yourself: “I might come back and be that lamb.”
But meat-borne illness is deadlier. »
Who really farms our food, and how? »
So you thought kale was so, like, last year? Turns out it’s still cool, with a Seattle Weekly blogger recently tallying up the top 10 kale dishes served at Seattle-area restaurants. The list includes the obvious (kale chips, kale salad, braised kale) and the wacky (yam and kale pizza, anyone?). The biggest news, though, may be the fact that restaurants are serving so much kale to begin with. Eat your greens, folks.
We produce more than enough food for all, but an eighth of the planet still goes hungry. »
Evidence of harm from pesticides, plus a shift in GMO tactics. »
Seven years ago, the photography book Hungry Planet became a sensation, with its simple but devastating concept: photographs of families around the world sitting behind a week’s worth of food.
Oxfam America is continuing the idea, with a series of similar photos from such locations as Zimbabwe, Armenia, and Sri Lanka. What’s shocking isn’t so much the diversity of food — ranging from packaged goods in Britain to rice and vegetables in Asia — as the dearth of it. How can the Azerbaijani family of four, for example, survive for an entire week on what they’re displaying on one small table?
Meanwhile, a Washington Post article lauds the Japanese school system for cooking traditional whole foods and having the children participate in serving it as well as eating it. That’s in contrast to at least one New York school district, which recently decided to refuse federal funds because the mandated healthy fare was simply being thrown away.
And you can pass the weight along to your kids, too. »
In an acerbic column earlier this month, the New York Times writer Ginia Bellafante skewered NYC’s young people, who she thinks are spending way too much money on food, both at the grocery store and in restaurants. (She does not discuss the fact that everything is expensive in New York City, including food, nor the fact that food costs overall have skyrocketed in recent years.)
Meanwhile, on The New Inquiry, Willoughby Cooke took foodies to task for a much more serious equality issue: the fact that very little of what’s spent on food these days actually goes to the people who produce, cook, and serve it. Cooke chastises the restaurant industry for its factory mentality and declares that if we really want our food to be sustainable, we need to pay living wages, too. And yes, that means that we need to pay more, not less, for our food.
Labeling around the world. »
Last week saw the launch of Food Tank, an online “food think tank” that collates news and resources about food politics and sustainability. Founded by activists Ellen Gustafson and Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank is not unlike Anna Lappé’s recently launched Food Myths project; both aim to get the word out about what’s really going on with our food system, and generate solutions to the globe’s food challenges. As Nierenberg told Grist, “It’s not just about your CSA, it’s about a whole bigger system that needs to be changed.”
The Los Angeles Times has a serious test kitchen, cooking through hundreds of recipes a year. Recently the paper arranged its best-of recipes in an easy-to-access format online. No, it’s not a comprehensive database — for that, you’ll want to hit the paper’s main recipe webpage — but it does offer cooks the top 10 (or 12, depending on the year) recipes for each year, going back to 1985. Most of the recipes fall into the category of “solid classics from around the world” — although the Chianti pesto does sound very 1985.
But a new technology might eventually make biofuel more feasible. »
Thanks to a last-minute piece of legislation signed into law yesterday by President Obama, the nation didn’t careen off the so-called "fiscal cliff" with the start of the new year.
But that doesn’t mean food-politickers aren’t still worried. As part of the fiscal-cliff negotiations, the 2012 farm bill — which stalled in Congress — has been given a nine-month extension that will, among other things, temporarily prevent a price hike on milk.
Venerable food-and-farms activist Wendell Berry thinks that, instead of rewriting the Farm Bill every five years, we should hammer out a truly sustainable bill — one that would stand for 50 years. And Mark Bittman, in a recent op-ed, agreed: “The point is that ‘sustainability’ is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.”
Here’s hoping things get more sustainable in 2013.
Flatbreads from around the continent
Eight Indian flatbreads to bake or fry at home.
The Food Corps co-founder
Flatbreads from around the continent
Beyond a supporting role