Memoirs of pig

A porcine project

November 30, 2011

Do you really, really love pork? Then the online literary project Pork Memoirs may be for you. Why pig? As the home page explains, “At its core, the pig represents a paradox: after all, pork is a staple protein for a majority of the world, yet taboo for the rest.”

Entries ranges from the expected (BBQ ribs) to the local-food political to a brief World War II memoir. There are the usual handwringing anecdotes involving Judaism and Islam’s prohibitions against pork, as well as the expected devotions to China's mastery of pork cookery.

Check out the full archive, which includes a link for submitting your own pork memoir.

Farmers in the dell

Good news, bad news

November 29, 2011

Obstacles and profits in local farming, plus news of the weird. And a Farm Bill video. »

Chemicals, politics, and more

Non-holiday food news from Tom Philpott

November 28, 2011

Sure, Tom Philpott’s been sharing his holiday-cooking tips on his Mother Jones blog, Food for Thought. But mostly, of course, Philpott bangs the drum of food awareness, and lately it’s been pretty loud.

Recent chemistry-themed reports have covered the dubious Chinese honey industry, the controversial use of the popular pesticide atrazine (especially in the corn industry), the nation’s continuing refusal to crack down on antibiotic use in livestock, and the ongoing seafood disaster that is the BP Gulf oil spill.

Here’s hoping you didn’t have an antibiotic-laced turkey for Thanksgiving last week.

A thankful roundup

From Mark Bittman

November 25, 2011

In case you missed it, Mark Bittman detoured last week from his usual op-ed protests to post on the New York Times Opinionator blog about all the positive things happening in the food-reform movement.

His 25 trends and influential people include the growth of farmers’ markets, the rise in demand for better food labeling, the renaissance of urban farming and gardening, and such journalism/politics/nonprofit-minded folks as Marion Nestle, Will Allen, Michael Pollan, Ann Cooper, and Bill Marler.

The local turkeyfest

Going local is going mainstream

November 23, 2011

Culinate guests Josh Viertel (of Slow Food USA) and Jennifer Maiser (of the Eat Local Challenge) recently discussed how to go local for Thanksgiving. Sunset magazine devoted its turkey-day coverage this year to locavore Thanksgiving feasts, with an emphasis on farm-to-table recipes. And as Rebekah Denn recently reported in the Seattle Times, going local is getting easier than ever:

Eating local foods, at least as one focus of a daily diet, has turned from an esoteric experiment to just-shy-of-mainstream. As demand grows, for reasons of health, environment or the local economy, more producers have taken the time to grow or stock ingredients that were once unattainable.

Even tea and saffron — delicate ingredients that don’t grow just anywhere — are now being produced in the Pacific Northwest. But Denn doesn’t think citrus and coffee will go local here anytime soon.

The New Yorker’s annual food issue

It’s a November thing

November 22, 2011

Just in time for Thanksgiving, the New Yorker’s annual food issue has hit newsstands. The theme issue includes features by Kelefa Sanneh on the latest revolution in coffee production, John Seabrook on apple research, development, and marketing, and Jane Kramer on why foraging has become trendy. (Kramer’s article is the only feature available in its entirety online.) And Adam Gopnik kicks things off with a meditation on the politics of the turkey.

The veggie-pizza controversy

Creative classification

November 21, 2011

If you’re old enough, you may recall the hullabaloo that greeted President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to have ketchup classified as a vegetable on public-school lunch trays. That effort was laughed down, but our collective memories are short, and the current Congress is trying to do the same with pizza — or at least, the tomato sauce on pizza. (For petition-signers, there’s a tersely funny petition online as well as a longer screed against the new classification.)

Help for Turkey Day

Tips from Slow Food, Local Harvest, and more

November 18, 2011

Trying to be good, clean, and fair with your turkey-day festivities this year? In case you missed yesterday’s Table Talk chat, Slow Food USA has published a Thanksgiving guide, featuring recipes culled from around the Web, info on heritage turkeys, tips and tricks for getting through the holiday with minimal fuss, and Slow Food’s take on the origin myth of Thanksgiving.

Not included, alas, are actual tips on how to cook a heritage turkey — a bird that tends to cook faster and drier than standard Broad Breasted Whites, with bigger thighs and smaller breasts. Local Harvest has a quick cheat sheet as well as a recipe. Chow also has some tips on handling heritage birds, as does Rodale and the blog Tigers and Strawberries. And Grist has a nice wrap-up of the comeback of the heritage turkey.

Finally, the Environmental Working Group has a list of general tips for healthy holiday kitchens.

Good intentions, foiled

So much for soda bans and nutrition labels

November 17, 2011

Students still drink soda, and nobody reads labels. »

Two obstacles for food reform

Money and politics

November 16, 2011

WIC on the block, and meat processing still a mess. »

Fishing innovations

A new label, and a new technology

November 15, 2011

Wild-caught fish and tank-raised shrimp. »

Michael Pollan in the Washington Post

An interview, broken into segments

November 14, 2011

The Washington Post food blogger Tim Carman recently had a long chat with Michael Pollan about food politics; the conversation has been broken down into three chats, posted separately.

The first segment includes a half-facetious discussion of who the Steve Jobs of agriculture might be: Joel Salatin? Will Allen? The second segment covers Michelle Obama, public health, and how junk food is marketed to children. And the third and final segment discusses that old Pollan canard: elitism.

Recession entrepreneurs

Back to the land out of necessity

November 11, 2011

Laid off? Trying to save money by going back to the land? Some folks are turning their penny-pinching ways into food-and-farming businesses. As a recent New York Times article noted, enterprising DIYers are starting sheep lawn-mowing services, chicken-keeping classes, high-tech urban farms, and pop-up grocery stores. So far, the businesses haven’t become major moneymakers, but the dream is alive.

Pesticides and Planned Parenthood

There’s more to PP than abortions

November 10, 2011

Trying to mitigate pesticide exposure. »

Dumpster diving

Getting academic over trash

November 9, 2011

Freegans get scholastic cred. »

The return of the butcher

Artisans open up shop

November 8, 2011

Get obscure cuts — and tips — from new butchers. »

The Farm Bill backlash

Trying to prevent a “secret” bill from getting passed

November 7, 2011

Agtivists and members of Congress fight back. But the real issue may lie elsewhere. »

Singing a vegetable love

A collards oratorio

November 7, 2011

It ain’t easy being green. »

Southern food, reinvented

In a Slow Food way

November 4, 2011

Last week’s issue of the New Yorker featured a Burkhard Bilger profile of Sean Brock, the executive chef of two restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina: the formal McCrady's and the down-home Husk.

What’s special about Brock? He’s a Slow Food kind of guy; he not only prepares authentic (and threatened) traditional Southern foods in inventive ways, but he also grows them himself. As the New Yorker blurb puts it:

In Brock’s kitchens, breeds like the Ossabaw pig are just the beginning of a grand culinary reclamation project — a painstaking revival of what was once America’s greatest cuisine, all but lost in the twentieth century. In the past few years, Brock and a small group of local historians, plant geneticists, and farmers have reintroduced dozens of heirloom greens and grains, many of them untasted since the eighteen-hundreds. Brock’s restaurants are like cleverly argued revisionist histories: they appeal to your nostalgia while reversing your expectations. . . . At Husk, Brock is re-creating what Southern food once was. At McCrady’s, he’s showing what it could be.

A donations primer

How to help out at the holidays

November 3, 2011

A recent post on the blog Kitchen Mage summed up the basics of donating to good food causes for the holidays. The post includes not just tips on finding local food banks and a list of recommended food-related nonprofits, but helpful techniques for figuring out if the obscure local nonprofit you’re interested in supporting is really worth your time and money — or if it’s even really a nonprofit:

Then there’s Pirates Without Borders. Much as I hate to burst my own imaginary bubble of their good works with my pointy sword, and while acknowledging that they do have some worthy goals, I must warn you that Pirates Without Borders does not appear to be a not-for-profit. Please do not give them your money thinking they are going to cure scurvy, work on Pegleg Anti-Defamation or try to have parrots declared service animals. They are not. They are working on political change, which isn’t usually a tax-deductible activity.

Finally, blogger Beth Sheresh wraps everything up with a list of weblinks to the resources she used to suss out nonprofits, so readers can do their own research.

Population growth and green revolutions

Will we need another food revolution to feed the planet?

November 2, 2011

Global warming, dwindling resources, and population growth could be a true Malthusian time bomb. »

James Beard goes sustainable

About time, too

November 1, 2011

James Beard, that 20th-century champion of local American foods, has long been a beloved figure on the foodie front. But until now, his name hasn’t been associated with the sustainability movement.

As Kerry Trueman recently reported on Grist, the James Beard Foundation — better known for its awards and its fancy dinners at the foundation’s New York townhouse — is finally embracing the sustainable-food scene:

While the JBF’s newfound fervor to reform our food chain may seem like a radical departure, it’s really more like a homecoming. James Beard, whose influence led Julia Child to declare him “the Dean of American Cuisine,” was advocating pure, regional, seasonally based home cooking half a century before Alice Waters and Michael Pollan sought to popularize that ideal.

Sift archive — November 2011

Dinner Guest

The gamification of cooking

Earning points

Most of the time with cooking and eating, the rules are clear.

Graze: Bites from the Site
First Person

The secret sharer

A father’s legacy

The Culinate Interview

Mollie Katzen

The vegetarian-cooking pioneer


Down South

Barbecue, tamales, cocktails, and more

Local Flavors

A winter romesco sauce

Good on everything

Editor’s Choice