“It’s the bunch of bananas you buy one at a time.” »
How was that tomato harvested? »
There’s a lotta international food aid circulating out there. But as a recent article on Gourmet.com pointed out, much of it isn’t nutritionally appropriate for children:
While the traditional food aid is useful for filling adult stomachs in emergency situations, helping kids is a different story. In children, malnutrition is the result of a lack of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals present in the body at the crucial stages of development (birth to 24 months), and is far more an issue of the quality of food than of quantity.
Sure enough, the corn-soy blend standard in most food aid doesn’t cut it. There are other nonperishable foods that do — but they’re more costly to produce, package, and put into the field.
Cory Schreiber is a longtime friend of Culinate. As a noted restaurateur, cookbook author (Wildwood), farm-to-school administrator, and, most recently, a less-meat eater (à la Mark Bittman), Schreiber is fun to talk with about food. This week, he’s interviewed over on Cookthink.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of products recently recalled in the Great Peanut Debacle, Marion Nestle’s latest column in the San Francisco Chronicle — "Chewing the fat on peanut butter" — may make you even more wary. Nestle reminds readers that unless your brand of peanut butter requires you to stir in the oil that separates from the peanuts over time, you may be buying peanuts blended with hydrogenated oils (i.e., trans fats), or lots of saturated fats, like palm-kernel oil. Your best bet may just be to find some good peanuts and make your own (sweetener optional).
Everything is vulnerable — especially dominant crops. The latest disease outbreak? Wheat (and other crops, such as barley) are succumbing to a new form of stem rust — a disease once controlled with resistant strains of grain and fungicides. Check out the Pulitzer Center’s slideshow on the problem.
Chow’s regular roundup of 10 items on a food theme recently focused on, yup, stretching your grocery dollar. In a nutshell? DIY, baby. Buy in bulk and make large quantities of whatever you’re jonesing for, be it granola (bake and customize it yourself), sliced deli meat (roast your own meat first), or mesclun salad mix (buy whole heads and chop your own). We like their recommendation to make your own pesto, too, rather than buying it for $6 in a little tub, although you may want to wait until summer when basil is in season — and cheap — then make a big batch and stash some in jars in the freezer. Alas, making your own Champagne isn’t suggested; you’ll still have to buy cheaper bubbly, like cava or prosecco.
Is that steak really grass-fed? »
A while back, Sona Pai wrote on Culinate about the polarizing effect of cilantro. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Charles J. Wysocki, a behavioral neuroscientist, is studying sets of twins to investigate our occasional love-hate relationship with the herb. So far, his findings suggest that there may be a genetic predisposition in favor of or against cilantro.
For a Gourmet food editor, removing the skin from ginger root is a breeze. »
What’s the best way to raise animals for meat? »
So we’re all trying to spend less money at the grocery store while food prices continue to rise. Feeling frustrated? Check out the basic tips for menu planning on the website Simple Mom (via the blog Cheap Healthy Good). Try it for a week and see if it makes you less (or more) crazy around the kitchen.
The dedicated folks over at the Ethicurean have put together a lengthy, two-part essay on what they’d like to see happen at the USDA over the next several months. The quest? “To find out which policies the new USDA, led by former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, could reasonably put in place in its first six months to inspire real changes in the food system.” Part One has five goals (not marketing junk food to kids among them) and Part Two has five more (including supporting real farmers, not Big Ag). Check it out.
This morning on “Think Out Loud” — Oregon Public Broadcasting's morning talk show — host Emily Harris spoke with Tom Vilsack, the new secretary of agriculture. Also featured on the program were two Oregon farmers: Anthony Boutard and Craig Reeder. (To hear a streamed version of the program, click on the play button under the headline “The Changeover: Farms, Food, Forests, Fuel.” An mp3 download is also available.) The show is rebroadcast this evening at 9; we’ll be listening then.
Why aren’t the feds zapping our food more often? »
Americans love their orange juice. So Pepsi, which owns Tropicana, decided to do a little research into their fruity product’s environmental impact. What’s the worst aspect of orange-juice production? According to the New York Times, it ain’t processing or transportation but growing the oranges themselves — largely because of the fertilizers used. Pepsi says it plans to figure out ways to reduce orange juice’s carbon footprint — and maybe have healthier ag, as well.
Antibiotic-resistant animals and farmers are getting sick. »
It’s not too late to hear a singing carrot. »
No growth hormones, only certain antibiotics, and very few animal by-products may be given to livestock “naturally raised.” »
Making the Internet rounds is a not-to-be-missed missive to Virgin Atlantic's Richard Branson. Written by London advertising executive Oliver Beale, the note derides his “meal” on a recent flight from Mumbai to London. Fortunately, the note includes photos, which make food fiascos like this one all the more vivid: “On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.”
It might seem inevitable, but the studies are just in: Antibiotics given to animals are now turning up in crops grown on land fertilized by those animals. The studies, done over the past few years by the University of Minnesota, indicate that, yes, if you eat those crops you are also eating antibiotics — and presumably building up antibiotic resistance in yourself as well. Yum. For more analysis, check out the Ethicurean’s assessment of the problem.
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