First came a Portland restaurant that ditched endangered species from its sushi menu. Now other restaurants are following suit, including one in San Francisco and another in Seattle. Heck, you want to know all about sustainable sushi, all the time? There’s even a blog by that name. Just say no to unagi.
The owner of a Missouri-based company that specializes in rare seeds has opened a seed store in Petaluma, California. Housed in the former Petaluma County National Bank, the Seed Bank carries hundreds of varieties of uncommon seeds — one of the largest selections of organic and heirloom seeds in the country.
Writes Natalie Starkman, over at Civil Eats:
Store Manager Paul Wallace said that the Seed Bank has been packed since it opened in early June with people from all over making the pilgrimage to marvel and buy rare seeds. (Weekenders, take note: for now, the Seed Bank is only opened Monday through Friday.) Bestsellers include carrots, squash, melon and beets (so there, President Obama). The store plans on selling local producers’ artisan foods and crafts, including tools. Wallace said that the magnificent hall will also serve as a community center and gathering space.
Fortunately, those not Petaluma-bound can buy the seeds online.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Seed to Plate can set novices on the, ahem, garden path to success with video lessons, a sowing calendar, and even a Web-based plot designer. And yes, seeds for sale, too.
An Ode reprint on AlterNet recently discussed which fats you should eat. Despite the low-fat mantra the health establishment has been repeating for years, writes Janet Paskin, “a high-fat diet won’t necessarily make us sick or fat; a low-fat diet may not make us healthy or slim.” In other words, real fats (think butter) in small amounts are better than fake fats (think margarine) in large amounts.
With the bounty of summer comes preserving: freezing, canning, and drying.
In May, Mark Bittman shared his good ideas for freezing foods. And a recent blog post on the Rachael Ray website offers some helpful tips as well. Both pros agree that most vegetables benefit from being blanched first.
(Have your own go-to sites for food preservation tips? Leave URLs in the comments.)
Over at Serious Eats, writer Carey Jones is doing a corn challenge, à la Curt Ellis. Carey went without corn for a week — even popcorn! — mostly by avoiding processed food. But in the end, it turns out that’s not enough:
As the week went on, a realization sunk in. Though I was eating no corn, my eating habits were still largely corn-based. That milk I was drinking? Definitely came from corn-eating cows. The chickens in my sausage chowed on corn-based feed, and their egg-laying sisters were fed with corn as well. And that contributed to our society’s massive overproduction just as surely as corn syrup.
So next week, Carey is going without corn-fed animal products too. Check back next week to find out just how hard that was. Or how easy.
Kim O’Donnel (yes, our own, of Table Talk) is the brains and some of the brawn behind Cans Across America (inspired by Live Culture’s Yes We Can Food event in the Bay Area). It’s a weekend — August 29-30 — to mark on your calendar: Two days when all across the country people will be putting up food. Kim’s recent post on True/Slant has more details, as does a post on Slashfood.
Jane Black, of the Washington Post, spoke with three sustainable-agriculture advocates — Wes Jackson, Fred Kirschenmann, and Wendell Berry — who were in the nation’s capital last week to talk with legislators about how our government might take the long view and adopt a 50-year farm bill.
It’s all good reading, but we especially appreciated this quote from Berry, about why the one-agricultural-size-fits-all-solution won’t work:
The inevitable aim of industrial agri-investors is the big universal solution. They want a big product that can be marketed everywhere. And the kind of agriculture we’re talking about that leads to food security and land conservation is locally adapted agriculture. And they can’t do that. Industrial agriculture plants cornfields in Arizona; locally adapted agriculture says, what can we fit in this place that will not destroy it? Or what can nature help us to do here? That’s the critical issue.
You know the old saying about how it’s so hot out, you could fry an egg on the hood of your car? A couple of years ago, the blog Baking Bites took that idea and stepped it up a notch: baking chocolate-chip cookies on a hot car dashboard. OK, so it took over two hours for the cookies to bake completely, and they never browned. But they did cook through, and they were tasty: “I think that they were best hot out of the car,” wrote blogger Nicole Weston.
NPR’s “Weekend Edition” yesterday featured a report about the Sardinistas of northern California and their efforts to encourage the locals to eat sardines, in season off the California coast for another week or so.
According to these advocates, sardines are really good for you; not only are they replete with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain less mercury than salmon or tuna. Plus, their populations are generally robust — at least for now.
(Interesting fish-food-for-thought: According to the NPR story, 90 percent of the sardines caught off the coast near Monterey will be shipped to Australia — to become food for tuna at a tuna farm.)
The Sardinistas have their work cut out for them, as many Americans find the notion of eating sardines unpalatable. How convenient, then, that Paris-based cook David Lebovitz just posted a recipe for sardine pâté on his blog — which sounds good enough to turn more than a few sardine skeptics into fans.
Should you be in the mood for weird food concepts, check out the website Fancy Fast Food, which dedicates time, money, and food-styling effort to converting fast food into pseudo-gourmet fare. Examples: a Domino’s pizza transformed into ersatz Chinese food (and retitled Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein), or an array of tapas fabricated from White Castle takeout (and renamed Tapas de Castillo Blanco). Harold and Kumar, eat your grease-lovin’ hearts out.
The findings vindicate comments made by Prince Charles that he talks to his plants although they suggest that for maximum results he would be better off recruiting the Duchess of Cornwall.
Over at the Cookus Interruptus blog, Cynthia Lair confesses to talking to the plants in her garden and wants to know if you do the same; head over and let her know.
(As for us, we’re warming to the idea after seeing the RHS evidence.)
The Cheesecake Factory dishes up much more than what you see on the menu. »
Via Eat Me Daily, the easy way to open a banana, apparently as monkeys do it:
For mobile users, you can find the YouTube link here.
In case you missed it, both Civil Eats and The Green Fork ran a post by Kerry Trueman recently that argues forcefully against petrochemical fertilizers. A partial solution? Picking up your own trowel, even if you live in an apartment. For DIY tips, check out the community-forum website Patio Farmers Guild.
Do summer vacations past find you “wondering how you blew $400 on food over three days you mostly spent at the beach”? Then check out Cheap Healthy Good’s recent post on vacation planning. No mere roundup of tips, this lengthy post includes budget-oriented menus and even equations for calculating how much money to spend per head. Staycation, here we come.
On his blog, Tufts University food economist Parke Wilde recently highlighted a lengthy article by Julie Flaherty entitled “Stomaching the recession: What the slumping economy will mean for the American diet,” from the spring issue of Tufts Nutrition (now available on the Tufts website). The article ranges far on the topics of hunger and obesity and income, and doesn’t settle for easy conclusions:
“How people respond will depend a lot on who they are as individuals,” says Professor Jeanne Goldberg, director of the Nutrition Communication Program at the Friedman School. “A lot will depend on the importance people place on their personal health and the health of their families.”
The article also discusses the fact that many Americans lack cooking skills, a state of affairs that’s also been labeled “kitchen illiteracy” by Tom Laskaway over at Grist. Time to bring back home economics, as well as economics at home.
In an amusing story yesterday, the New York Times ran a roundup of attitudes toward (and bizarre anecdotes about) leftover food. As the author, Henry Alford, wrote, “Whether it takes the form of harassing, stealing, smothering, or snickering, the way we deal with leftovers can say a lot about who we are.”
Freaked out about how long that potato salad’s been sitting on the picnic table? Get reassured at Still Tasty, a new website for consumers trying to figure out whether something’s safe to eat or not. The site offers shelf-life info by ingredient as well as storage and handling tips. Drawing on food-safety research conducted by the USDA, the FDA, and the Centers for Disease Control, the site is a bit like a miniature health department aimed at individuals, not the public at large.
Just in time for the holiday weekend: On Salon, Garrison Keillor’s reminding us all to make our own dang potato salad, instead of eating “yellowish muck bought at a convenience store.” And just in case we potato-salad-makers need inspiration, Mark Bittman’s got a grilled potato salad that would be fine alongside sausages on the barbie.
Richard Wrangham’s new book, Catching Fire, has gotten press lately for its argument that our ability to cook is what, largely, makes us human. But also noteworthy is Wrangham’s assessment of how cooking may have divided us along gender lines; as the New York Times review of his book quoted, “Cooking created and perpetuated a novel system of male cultural superiority. It is not a pretty picture.”
A quick trio of recent posts we enjoyed on Bitten, Mark Bittman’s blog: a look at a new book about the food industry, a nod to Marion Nestle's assessment of organic food, and a graphic on which companies own seeds. Food for thought, all of it.
Change in our kitchens
Reflections on cooking — and a career that’s based largely at the stove.
Flatbreads from around the continent
Beyond a supporting role
The great Sicilian-Neapolitan kitchen rivalry
Five ideas each month for eating better