I'm still playing with my food

To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.
Anthony Bourdain

If you can't know your farmer, you should know the person who knows them. There should never be more than two degrees of separation between your grocer and your farmer.
Shannon Hayes

we're the first civilization that has deemed it perfectly safe to feed our kids Mountain Dew, Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs, but not raw milk, compost-grown tomatoes and Aunt Mathilda's homemade pickles - those are dangerous substances
http://vimeo.com/28010835
http://vimeo.com/28014880
http://vimeo.com/28017707
http://vimeo.com/28018340
http://vimeo.com/28019184
A 5 part interview with Joel Salatin

Bad bacon is something of an oxymoron. Cook's Illustrated

If you are going to have a treat, enjoy every freakin' bite. Look at it when you eat it. Eat slowly. Don't unconsciously shovel it into your mouth. And don't consider it falling off the wagon.
Tara Grant

If you are what you eat and you don't know what you're eating, do you know who you are?
Claude Fischler, Sociologist with the French National Center for Scientific Research

People who love to eat are always the best people.
Julia Child (1912 - 2004)

While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease.
Dr. Ian Myle, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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I'm still playing with my food

My name is Rick Bradley and here I intend to share some of the recipes that have worked for me, resources I've found, sites that have inspired or interested me, and other food related 'stuff' as I come across it.

A brief resume can be found here and you can email me at

This website is my hobby in retirement. Any mention of a product or service is done so freely without remuneration or reward.

Healthy food - Healthy people

The more I play with my food the more curious I have become about it. Not only how to prepare it to best advantage but how it is grown, how it came to be what it is today, what happens twixt field an fork, and perhaps most important, what impact will it have on me? Some of this search is a direct result of the realization that we'd been feeding our cats cereal with a side of toast when they desperately needed a mouse (but that's another soapbox).
Shortly thereafter I came across the Paleo diet/lifestyle and was curious enough about it to try living without grains for a trial period. Six weeks later my doctor declared that I was not only not diabetic but was slightly below the normal range. My diabetic notation was replaced by 'gluten tolerance issues' which, at the time, sounded so much better.
This pursuit is different than the majority of the content of the site so I'm putting it into its own folder, Healthy food - Healthy people. Take care if you follow the link. You may end up as confused as I am.

Rate Your Plate Just what are you eating

The Environmental Working Group has created a massive database of consumer food items which should allow Americans to clean up their plates. As the results are brand specific the rest of us can just wish we had a similar resource.

Label reading takne to the next level

Kristen Michaelis aka Food Renegade takes reading labels to the next level, decoding labels, as she dissects Beyond Meat Southwest Chicken Free Strips which are purported by the manufacturer to be "Free of gluten, GMOs, & antibiotics. Cholesterol-free. Real Meat made from 100% Plant Protein. As much protein as chicken."
Real Meat made from 100% Plant Protein???? http://www.foodrenegade.com/decoding-labels-beyond-meat-chicken

200 calories- what it looks like on a plate-

In this handy visual from Wise Geek (click for the full view), you can compare what 200 calories looks like in a bunch of different foods. https://i.imgur.com/aUyraGC.jpg.

Birra Spalmabile from Italy and Black Burgers in Japan
Chickens have gotten ridiculously large since the 1950s
Free Choice of Food an insightful dissertation

Dr. Amanda Rose gave this presntation at TEDxLAMiracleMile. It's focus was raw milk but the principle embraces pretty much everything we do.

New Discovery About What's Killing Honey Bees or is it what we already knew?

As many of you are aware for several years now the earth has experienced an unprecedented loss of honeybees to a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). A recently published study on the subject provides further evidence that the widespread use of neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides, is harming the bees, causing them to desert their hives during winter months. Without the protection of their hives, the bees die.

These Countries Waste Enough Food to Feed the Planet

Richer countries like the U.S. and U.K. are the worst culprits, chucking away 222 million metric tons of food daily, which is almost as much as the entire net food production for the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. Whole sad story

Organic or not? Clear differences between organic and non-organic food

An international team, led by Prof Carlo Leifert at Newcastle University, concludes that there are "statistically significant, meaningful" differences, with a range of antioxidants being "substantially higher" – between 19% and 69% – in organic food. The whole story.
Of course only two years ago Dena Bravata, MD, MS of Stanford said:

“There isn’t much difference between organic and conventional foods, if you’re an adult and making a decision based solely on your health,”
Are we all on the same planet? See confused above.

Can the damage be undone?
Time Magazine covers

Cheap Eats a boon or the bane of our existence

Today, two in three Americans (and Canadians) are overweight or obese, with rates climbing steadily over the past several decades. Many factors have been suggested as causes: snack food, automobiles, television, fast food, computer use, vending machines, suburban housing developments, and portion size. The authors say forming a coherent picture is a challenge, but after examining available evidence, they say widespread availability of inexpensive food appears to have the strongest link to obesity. They write:

Americans are spending a smaller share of their income (or corresponding amount of effort) on food than any other society in history or anywhere else in the world, yet get more for it.
In the 1930s, Americans spent one-quarter of their disposable income on food. By the 1950s, that figure had dropped to one-fifth. The most recent data show the share of disposable income spent on food is now under one-tenth (and Canada is not far behind in fourth place).
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522074749.htm

A Moveable Feast: The Bowery Project is an instant prefab demountable urban farm

Bowery Project is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to create opportunities for urban agriculture through the temporary use of vacant lots. They design, build and manage mobile urban farms in downtown Toronto growing food for local chefs and charities while engaging the community through fun, creative and educational programming.
For more info http://www.boweryproject.ca/

USDA needs machine guns cows in raw milk dairies seen packing heat

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe or folding, magazine - 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation."
I promise I didn't make it up (nor did I change the atrocious spelling). https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=9fc3a01217d03b0354e1e18b69aa7bad&tab=core&_cview=0

Machine guns are for killing people. If the USDA is training its agents to kill people then you've just got to wonder who's in their sights.

Raw Milk Vending Machines Take Over Europe

Public health in Ontario (really all of North America) continues to have its knickers in a knot over raw milk yet in Europe it's widely available. Seems strange that those wild and crazy europeans sucking on the evil brew aren't dropping like flies.
There is light at the end of the tunnel south of the border. Only 10 US states still have complete bans on raw milk and that number is expected to drop again. Legislation has been introduced at the federal level and has garnered unprecedented levels of support though likely not enough to overwhelm the representatives owned by the dairy lobby. Balance the hysterical prattling of public health officials with information from http://www.realmilk.com/
Here you can find arguments made by the Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium ans counter points from the Weston A Price Foundation. It's a good reminder that the devil is indeed in the details. http://www.realmilk.com/press/response-northern-illinois-public-health-consortium-inc/

MacDonalds gives up on pink slime North America gets slime free patties just like the rest of the world

Hamburger chef Jamie Oliver has won his long-fought battle against one of the largest fast food chains in the world – McDonalds. After Oliver showed how McDonald’s hamburgers are made, the franchise finally announced that it will change its recipe, and yet there was barely a peep about this in the mainstream, corporate media (are we surprised?). The story

Ontario Court confirms we don't have the right to choose what we eat

In upholding a 2011 conviction against Michael Schmidt the Ontario Court of Appeal said “Lifestyle choices as to food or substances to be consumed do not attract Charter protection.”.
It would be interesting (at the very least) to know how many millions have been drained from the public purse since 1994 when the Grey-Bruce Health Unit recommenced it's campaign against Mr Schmidt.
It's difficult to understand public healths vitriolic campaign against raw milk. Only in Canada and Australia is there a nationwide ban on the sale (not consumption or they would have to make dairy farmers quit drinking it) of raw milk. If the stuff was as dangerous as public health officials would have you believe then there would be extensive data to support their claims. If the proof exists they aren't trotting it out.
I don't think I'd want to consume the product of our milk factories were it not pasteurized but the day raw milk is legal I'll be at the front of the line.

Food packaging chemicals may be harmful to human health over long term

Supermarket. The synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term, warn environmental scientists. This is because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat, they say.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140219205215.htm

5 Cooking Skills Children Need to Learn Before Leaving Home-

Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist rarely writes about home economics except as it may relate to whatever other topic she's on about. She can be quite strident and there appears to be room for very little grey in her world but I nonetheless read virtually all of her posts. Todays post on cooking skills is food for thought for parents everywhere.

The Perfect Pizza at least as far as the US militery is concerned

They call it the holy grail of ready-to-eat meals for soldiers: a pizza that can stay on the shelf for up to three years and still remain good to eat. Scientists tweaked the acidity of the sauce, cheese and dough to make it harder for oxygen and bacteria to thrive. They also added iron filings to the package to absorb any air remaining in the pouch.
As RR would say, "yum". See the whole article.

Food TV maybe it'll be about food again

Are you, like me, tired of all of the wars, throat cutting and chopping being done on the Food Network these days then GustoTV may be a ray of hope. Founder Chris Knight who has produced food-based television shows for big television networks for well over a decade promises "all the kinds of shows that made Food Network popular in the first place"

Post makes it two

Post sent a letter to GMO Inside, a campaign run by the green-business group Green America, announcing that as of January 2014, its Grape-Nuts cereal would be made without GMOs. Unlike General Mills the company also hinted that other Post brand cereals would be made without GMOs in the future but didn't list specific brands.

Alarum! Alarum!, the end may be nigh General Mills - GMO free??

General Mills announced on January 2 that they would start making original Cheerios without genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.
This from a company that spent millions of dollars to defeat GMO labeling laws in California and Washington state!!
Now before you start thinking that the earth reversed its spin or something it's important to note that "It's the unique and simple nature of original Cheerios that made this possible" as it only contained a small quantity of cornstarch and beet root sugar (virtually all corn and sugar beets in North America are GM) so sourcing clean ingredients was not an onerous task. Before you rush out to stock up note that this only affects the original recipe, the sundry variations are not yet safe.
As a major player in the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), a trade group representing large food corporations they have helpfully written their own version of a GMO labelling law which would also allow the "GMO-free" label on foods that contain GMOs due to "unavoidable contamination" as well as on dairy products from cattle fed GMO corn and soy and on foods like cheese that have been produced with genetically engineered enzymes. They're currently shopping for some witless wonder in the US Congress to be the shill.

The Christmas turkey just who's idea was that anyway?

Well it was our turn to host Christmas this year so I had yet another opportunity to tackle the fowl task. I'm pleased to report at least a partial victory. I opted for the partial deconstruction* method this year and managed to produce plates full of moist, tender, beautifully cooked meat, both light and dark and nice crisp skin. It did keep us waiting three quarters of an hour and the squash suffered a bit from the wait. The un-stuffing however was not a contender.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the 'traditional' turkey (ie crispy skin, moist, tender meat, and delicious stuffing) defies the laws of physics. The breast way up at the top is done at 160°F, the legs and wings at the bottom are done at 180°F and the stuffing (usually jammed in tight enough to form a solid block) is done somewhere in between.
*deconstruction can range from spatchcock or spattlecock (removing the backbone and flattening the bird) to complete deboning. I opted for the middle ground. I used the America's Test Kitchen method (one of about 8 different ones that they've published) cutting off the legs and wings and breaking/cutting out the backbone. I did not flatten the breasts. I cooked the bird for half an hour at 425°F then reduced the temperature to 325°F. The extra time it took was doubtless due to miscalculating the time that my larger bird would need. The neck, back, and wings went into stock prepared the day before.
At the end of the day I managed two out of three elements of the ideal turkey. Now if I can nail the stuffing and the time I'll be a hero.

TEDx has gone to the dark side

It seems that TEDx has taken a page from the Roman Inquisition (the papal court that sentenced Galileo Galilei to life in prison for daring the suggest that the earth revolved around the sun) and has instructed all of its organizers to eschew any speaker whose topic "Has failed to convince many mainstream scientists of its truth" among other things. Lest you think I exaggerate they have published their retrograde standards for all to see at http://blog.tedx.com/post/37405280671/a-letter-to-the-tedx-community-on-tedx-and-bad-science.
That's a damn shame as I always looked to them for stimulating ideas even if the presenters were dead wrong (imho).

Remember Pink Slime and Non-intact beef products at XL and Establishment 38? Well now we've got 'meat glue'

You may recall that the primary concern in the latter case was the translocation of surface pathogens into the deep, internal tissues of the final product. Now with meat glue anyone can gather up little pieces and make a new piece. As shown in this Australian youtube video, even a chef can be deceived by the final product. There is a ban mentioned but that's only in the EU. Canada and the US have no such ban. Industry types were quick to respond to this video noting that it would be illegal under current packaging laws, unethical, and just generally mean for anyone to wrap up meat into cute little plastic covered tubes like they show in the video and peddle them without mentioning that they might not be what they seem to. They claimed (with straight faces) that such abuse would never happen here.

Cavemen Ate $12 Burgers: A Historical Perspective on Food Prices

We like to complain about the price of food and how much it's increased and how much cheaper it is south of the border. David Maren of Tendergrass Farms has an excellent guest article on Mark's Daily Apple and Washington State University has the numbers for the whole world. We're fifth at 9.1% of our income behind only UAE(doubtless skewed due to oil income), UK, Ireland, and the US.
We unfortunately seem to have forgotten that you get what you pay for.

Chipotle's Haunting New Anti–Factory-Farming Ad

This animated short doesn't need any words from me.

'

Chipotle Mexican Grill has set out to sell Food With Integrity. See their first video here.

Chinese Chicken? but don't worry it's just for food service (like hospitals)

The US Department of Agriculture gave four chicken plants in China the go-ahead to send processed meat products to the United States, possibly opening the way for China to eventually send its own bred chicken to the US market.
The USDA's approval will allow the plants to export only products from chickens raised and slaughtered in the US and Canada to be shipped back to the US for sale.
The full story in ChinaDaily.

APPETITE FOR CHANGE? Nutrition and the nation’s obesity crisis

Lest anyone think that North America has a lock on industrial food related health issues this report from the UK.

In two decades levels of obesity have grown from one in seven adults to one in four. Fat is the new normal with 61% of the population either overweight or obese. And the problem only seems to be getting worse with experts predicting that by 2050 more than half of all adults will be obese.
Get the executive summary.

The Story of Bottled Water

Comment by me would be superfluous.

Rural America in Crisis a shortage of cannon fodder?

In a recent conflab of who's who in agriculture in Virginia U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated that in 2012, for the first time ever — rural America lost population in real numbers — not as a percentage but in real numbers. It’s down to 16 percent of total population.
This is of course a major concern though not for the reasons that might first come to mind. It seems that though rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Well, well, well! It seems that decades of screwing the family farm has finally come back to bite them in the ass.
Joel Salatin was there and has said it much more eloquently than I can.

Commonly used flame retardants can mimic estrogen hormones

By determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins at the atomic level, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered how some commonly used flame retardants, called brominated flame retardants (BFRs), can mimic estrogen hormones and possibly disrupt the body's endocrine system. BFRs are chemicals added or applied to materials to slow or prevent the start or growth of fire.
news release

Another soft drink? better not

When mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar – the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily – females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce, according to a toxicity test developed at the University of Utah.
article

And the very worst is Long John Silver's Big Catch

According to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) testing, the worst restaurant meal in America contains a whopping 33 grams of heart-destroying trans fats. That's 16 times as much trans fats as the American Heart Association recommends per day.
Some other unappetizing facts about this "Big Catch" combo? CSPI says it contains:

  • about 3,700 milligrams of sodium
  • 19 grams of saturated fat
  • 1,320 calories
  • 4 ounces fish, 3 ounces trans fat–laden breading
As bad as that is it seems modest compared to the chart topper Cheesecake Factory French Toast Napoleon on Men's Health Worst Foods in America: 2013 list
For the 3rd year in a row, the bastion of gluttony known as the Cheesecake Factory has received the top prize in our contest of diet debauchery . . . a breakfast with as many calories as 3 dozen eggs.

  • 2,530 calories
  • N/A g fat (65 g saturated)
  • 1,930 mg sodium
  • 253 g carbohydrates

The Cheescake Factory also features prominently in Rodale's shorter 9 Unhealthiest Meals in America list.

The origins of agriculture: did we get a buzz eating cereal?

Greg Wadley and Angus Martin wrote this fascinating paper published in Australian Biologist volume 6: pp 96-105, June 1993.

A biological assessment of what has been called the puzzle of agriculture might phrase it in simple ethological terms: why was this behaviour (agriculture) reinforced (and hence selected for) if it was not offering adaptive rewards surpassing those accruing to hunter-gathering or foraging economies?
See the original courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

Communicating the Science of the '6x°C Egg'

Delivering a keynote address at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society César Vega, Ph.D., explained why cooking ranks as an ideal way of fostering broader awareness about science.

"Cooking is chemistry, and the kitchen is a laboratory, cooking and food are the single most direct and obvious personal experiences that people have with chemistry. Food is personal. Food is fun! Seemingly simple foods like cookies, fondue and eggs help illustrate key scientific principles. Why are some cookies chewy and others crunchy -- or even better, both at the same time? Why do egg whites whip better if we add cream of tartar? Why does Gruyère cheese make the perfect fondue? The sights, the smells, the textures of food can help people remember the science."
Read the rest of the article to discover why a lot of the hype around the perfect '6x°C egg' is bad science and worse cookery.

The vegan's dilemma

Those among us who take up the vegetarian/vegan existence for ethical reasons may have to do some soul searching following this latest round of research. Scientists at Rice University and the University of California at Davis have been investigating the circadian rhythms of plants and report in part:

Vegetables and fruits don't die the moment they are harvested . . . they respond to their environment for days

? I'm at a loss for words

Poor food and worse lifestyle choices have us in an obesity epidemic and heading for the cliff. Pizza Hut has added a couple more nails to the coffin. This quote is taken from a recent review (my emphasis):

Now Pizza Hut has taken the ordering process to the next level - an app you download and run on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system. What could be better after a few hours of gaming or movie watching than to jump over to a simple app, place our order, and get up only when the doorbell rings?
If you're keen to reserve your place on the leading edge of whatever this is then I suggest you look into it but I'm going to refrain from further assistance

Food Waste Challenge ~ Together we can make a difference!

Approximately $47 billion worth of food available for sale at grocery stores and other retail outlets in the US in 2008 did not make it into consumers' shopping carts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, inviting producer groups, processors, manufacturers, retailers, communities, and other government agencies to join in their efforts to:

  • Reduce food loss and waste
  • Recover wholesome food for human consumption
  • Recycle discards to other uses including animal feed, composting, and energy generation
I suspect that they ought to get food educators and entertainers on board first so that they can stop delivering the "if it ain't perfect then throw it out" message that pervades the industry.
To add insult to injury the USDA also calculates that $2 billion of US taxpayer money is spent trucking 35 million tons (that's the lowest of several estimates I found)of food waste to landfills.

Seafood Watch

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans. Their recommendations indicate which seafood items are "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives," and which ones you should "Avoid.". Get their pocket guide here.

COOL Country of Origin Label

A survey by the Consumer Federation of America shows 90 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring companies to list the origin of the fresh meat they sell on the label. It seems that the current administration (not the idiots in Congress or Senate) is either willing to listen to the general public or (more likely) has an agenda which happens to coincide with popular opinion.
Here in Canada the government doesn't give a rat's ass what we think (they've never asked) so instead of giving us some decent COOL regulations they've devoted all of their efforts (and a boatload of our tax dollars) to whining about the American regulations
I'll drive across town to Sobey's because they advertize (some of) their meat to be Canadian and my regular store (RCSS) tells me source of the meat on the counter is a crapshoot. Thanks Galen but no thanks

"Local Food" the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is busy protecting us

The CFIA is abandoning it's definition of local (within 50km or in the local government unit) "with input from consumers, industry and other stakeholders"

The CFIA is adopting an interim policy which recognizes "local" as:
  • food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or
  • food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory
all the rest of the excuses
Just who's paying these birds anyway?.

Burger Primer

Burgers are everywhere, expanding from fast-food outlets and quick-serve casual restaurants to high-end temples of gastronomy and everything in between. And of course, recipes flood the Internet. No need to go on a burger hunt, though, because Epicurious has the ultimate guide to hamburger heaven

Roundup: Quick Death for Weeds, Slow and Painful Death for You

Roundup, Roundup everywhere. Most homeowners use it without a second thought. Many schools even use it, blithely spraying around planting beds and sidewalks where children walk and play, tracking its residues into classrooms, cars, homes and little bodies. article with florid prose and the report as published in Entropy Volume 15, Issue 4 longer, really technical, same bottom line. The stuff's going to kill us.

Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?

Buycott is a tool that lets you organize your consumer spending to help causes that you care for, and to oppose those that you don't. Scan a barcode with the Buycott app and it will try to determine what the product is and who owns it. Buycott will then trace the product's ownership back to its top parent company and cross-check this company against the campaigns that you've joined before telling you whether it found a conflict. web site

Not Just Bad for Hormones: How Soy Harms Digestion and Stresses the Pancreas

So you got the memo that soy is very bad for the hormonal system. But did you know that back in the 1970s and 1980s, researchers studying damage to the pancreas caused by protease inhibitors noted that pancreatic cancer had then moved up to fifth place, and suggested a soybean-protease inhibitor connection. Since then pancreatic cancer promoted itself to the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths of men and women in the United States, and is predicted to move into second place by 2020. full story

Cicadas as Food: Summer's Low-Fat Snack?

High-protein, low-carb dieters take note: The billions of cicadas emerging from the ground this month are a healthy alternative to that bacon double-cheeseburger without the bun. Magicicada Brood II will emerge along the US Eastern Seaboard. This map shows the area of expected emergence.
More info on the insect.
National Geographic article on the 2007 emergence.

8 Food Fakes Sniffing Out Food Fraud

The U.S. has one of the safest food supplies in the world. But that doesn't mean it's perfect. In fact, shoppers here are just as likely as shoppers anywhere in the world to succumb to the growing problem of food fraud, cases of unscrupulous food producers adding cheaper ingredients to a product, for instance, cheaper oils rather than olive oil, but advertising it as the real thing. "Food fraud attempts to cheat the market by selling a substandard product and trying to get away with it," says Markus Lipp, senior director of food standards at U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), which recently launched an online database of independently documented food fraud instances. full story

Organic Strawberries safer and better tasting to boot

It's hard to find fault with the latest field trials by Washington State University showing that organically grown strawberries are more nutritious than their chemically grown counterparts. The study also shows that the soil in which the organic strawberries were grown is healthier. article

And to reiterate the reasons for buying organic in the first place (nine known or probable carcinogens, 24 suspected hormone disrupters, 11 neurotoxins, 12 developmental or reproductive toxins, and 19 honeybee toxins). article

Following a Western Style Diet May Lead to Greater Risk of Premature Death some people still seem to be surprised by this

A group has examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up. press release
It's curious that they are re-examining data from the British Whitehall II cohort study which focused on the social determinants of health, specifically the cardiorespiratory disease prevalence and mortality rates among British civil servants. Sadly the (AHEI) which they tout as our path to salvation looks little different than all of the other food guidelines which certainly have led us down a path.

BPA is it finally on it's way out?

California just officially declared the canned food chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, what it is: toxic. The state announced its has included BPA on its Prop. 65 list, a collection of compounds that by state law must be labeled due to their known carcinogenic and/or reproductive damage properties. Rodale article
Unfortunately the replacement may be as bad or even worse (but who knows because of course it hasn't been tested before use either). Rodale article

Schmaltz and Gribenes who knew?

Schmaltz has been on my round toit list for an indecently long time. Last week the supply of chicken fat left over from making cat food started to overflow it's allocated spot in the freezer so I went looking for instructions and found this delightful dissertation by Tori Avey, the Shiksa in the Kitchen and another at Sadie Salome on this quintessentially Jewish ingredient. The schmaltz adds a new flavour to fried potatoes but, while I'm glad to have it in the pantry, I doubt that it's going to get called out as often as the bacon fat.
The gribenes on the other hand should be classed as an addictive substance. I may have to find some Jewish acquaintances and offer to make schmaltz for them just so I'll have an excuse to make gribenes.

Sugar and you were worried about tooth decay!

Sugar-sweetened sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks may be associated with about 180,000 deaths around the world each year, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319202144.htm

Diet Dance so your new diet is going to melt away the fat and decorate the Christmas tree to boot - or not

Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace offers a candid perspective on dieting.
Can you lose weight by dieting? Of course you can. Will it be effortless, miraculous, instantaneous, or rapid? Not in this lifetime.
The Real Reason Diets Fail and What You Can Do About It
How Long Will it Take to Lose the Weight?

Food Pyramid or pyramid scheme who benefits??
Dietary Guidlines and obesity

Data from: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). National Center for Health Statistics, Division of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults: United States, Trends 1976-1980 Through 2007-2008.
There is hope however faint.
In December 2005 Dr. Annika Dahlqvist was reported by two dieticians in Sweden. They wrote to the National Swedish Board of Health and Welfare complaining of her 'divergent dietary advice' (High Fat Low Carb). That agency examined the issue and publicly declared on January 16, 2008 that a low-carb diet is

in accordance with science and well-tried experience for reducing obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Less than three years later almost 25% of Swedes have adopted a HFLC diet.

An apple a day brings the mortician to the door??

It's not quite that bad. The apple is the most contaminated fruit you can buy but the Environmental Working Group still admonishes us to eat our fruits and vegetables while pointing out the items for which we might want to pay the premium for organic:

The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.
The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.
The guide along with the list of the least contaminated vegies can be found at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/ or you can check out the full list at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list/

Megaquarry Cancelled sometimes they do listen

At 10 AM on Wednesday, November 21, 2012 The Highland Companies withdrew their application for environmental assessment of the proposed "Mega-Quarry" they hoped to dig out of the prime farmland in Melanchton Township, near Creemore, Ontario. Among the reasons the company gave was that "the application does not have sufficient support from the community and government to justify proceeding with the approval process." A brief history of the grass-roots movement that opposed the quarry, got the Ontario government to make the unprecedented move of requiring a quarry to go through a public environmental assessment, and then demonstrated how profoundly the people of the province did not want it, has been written by activist Jason Van Bruggen in The National Post, click here to read it.
It will be interesting to know what will become of that land holding as I doubt that a bunch of speculators want to start farming.

Update: I've since learned that those Boston bankers may have a little dirt under their fingernails. Since beginning this little escapade they've become one of the largest potato producers in Ontario. Do you suppose they'll discover that there's money to be made in organic??

Are you heading for the final Roundup

Researchers from the Universities if Caen and Verona have published a study about "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" which is apparently the first long term study yet undertaken (previous studies were limited to 90 days).

The health effects of a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize (from 11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup, and Roundup alone (from 0.1 ppb in water), were studied 2 years in rats. In females, all treated groups died 2-3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone and sex dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable.

The original publication and a number of dissenting opinions can be found at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637 After cursory inspection of the dissenting views it seems to me that the only item not in dispute is the fact that this is the first long term test. I suppose it's just naive of me to wonder why a product that's been in the works since the early 1970's has never before been tested to this extent. If drug companies were held to the same strict standards as the chemical behemoths then all we'd ask is that the pills fit in the bottle.

Crops which are currently Roundup Ready® include corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, sugarbeets, and alfalfa.

2013/11/29 The publisher has withdrawn this paper after a year long investigation found it did not meet scientific standards. Reed Elsevier's Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, which published the study by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini in September 2012, said on Thursday the retraction was because the study's small sample size meant no definitive conclusions could be reached.

and on an entirely different note
Hundreds of lost Ansel Adams photo prints found at UC Berkeley

Talk about a photographic treasure trove! Over 600 signed prints by legendary American photographer Ansel Adams have been discovered in a box at the University of California's Berkeley campus.

What would happen if I went for an entire month without eating any processed foods?

In October of 2009, Andrew Wilder was struck by a simple idea: What would happen if I went for an entire month without eating any processed foods?

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

So he tried it, along with a few good friends: A month of no processed foods.
It was revelatory.
In 2010, he decided to try it again, in a bigger way. He issued the challenge again and 415 people took the pledge.
Last year, over 3,000 people took the pledge.
And this year he's back again. When it wrapped 6,133 people had joined in.

Cute and possibly useful egg trick

If you've got lots of eggs to separate this might prove worthwhile. Unless you speak Chinese you might as well turn down the volume.

Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

One of my indulgences is watching the mentioned show on the travel channel whenever I see that it's on or remember to record it Chef Zimmern will eat nearly anything, anything that is that his hosts in whatever country he's visiting are dishing up. He recently had a show focused on children and what they were eating around the world. He then brought back some of the examples to the International School of Minnesota for the children there to sample. They tucked into fried crickets (and devoured every last one), head cheese, trotters, chicken feet, and tongue prepared in blood. I suspect that they were more adventurous than their parents would have been.
One short segment from Argentina was enlightening. He introduced several children to peanut butter. While they all tried it the girls agreed that it was 'gross' while the boys seemed to think that anything brown and squishy had some redeeming value even if it wasn't taste.

The Milky Way in Ontario??

Imagine, milk with terroir. Two local dairy farms are about to revolutionize the way we think about that most basic of foods. Make history this summer. Walk into a food market in Creemore and pick up some fresh Jersey milk in a glass bottle from Miller's Dairy. Then drive past John and Marie Miller's farm on County Road 9 so you can say, "That's where my milk came from".
We can all be jealous now of the lucky folks near Kingston and up Collingwood way who have, or soon will, access to farm fresh milk (still not raw but that's another battle). The story appeared in the Food In The Hills magazine which has gone away or the farm web sites at http://www.sheldoncreekdairy.ca/ http://www.millersdairy.com/ http://www.limestonecreamery.ca/

Sustain Ontario - The Alliance for Healthy Food and Farming

Sustain Ontario is compiling lists of organizations, networks and resources related to healthy food and sustainable agriculture.http://sustainontario.com/
June's here and with it the opening of seasonal farmers markets everywhere! Finally, you can taste the spring weather and earth in the fresh produce delivered direct to your local neighbourhood. Farmers markets are one good food idea that keeps on growing. These four videos show how farmers markets are making a difference in communities across Ontario (but lamentably NOT in Chatham-Kent). http://sustainontario.com/category/growing-good-food-ideas/ggfi-videos

Get your pork out of the heat

I just discovered on the Nebraska Pork Producers Association website that the US Department of Agriculture has finally decided that pigs should be pink, at least on the inside. In May of 2011 they finally announced that it was safe to cook pork to 145°F much to the delight of pork producers and consumers. Now whether or not that's medium-rare is another discussion but at least it's not dried out. Here unfortunately the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is still (as of 2012/1/16) holding out for 160°F. Of course they think that beef at 145°F is medium rare so. . .

Not Free (but not expensive) Knife Care Instruction

I have been watching Murray Carter's videos on YouTube and other sites for quite some time and I finally splurged (at $25 I suppose it's not much of a splurge) and ordered his new instruction video Blade Sharpening Fundamentals. He makes a compelling argument for eschewing other sharpening "systems" because they exclusively address the primary cutting angle of the blade and lock you into the "right" angle while ignoring the fact that the secondary angle will have to be adjusted to keep the blade cutting properly.
He makes no promises of instant success but if one were to follow his careful instructions then I expect that proficiency would soon follow. I've retrieved a test knife from the garden shed, a blade of unknown provenance which may once have belonged to my grandfather. I expect to start on it soon and will provide progress reports here.

Free Knife Care and Maintenance Tips

I have written about Murray Carter before in my compilation of knife care resources. This man has doubtless forgotten more about knives than most of us will ever know and now he has written a compilation of Free Knife Care and Maintenance Tips which he is providing for absolutely no charge! These tips include:

  • Seven-Step Sharpening Procedure
  • Three-Finger Sharpness Test
  • How to Sharpen Anywhere, With Anything

And more... so go and sign up now. (lost link)
Check out Murray playing with paper airplanes.

Julia Child 100

Alfred P. Knopf has invited a cross section of people to participate in a celebration of Julia Child, to mark what would have been her 100th birthday. The select few (many?) are all publishing online and will be trying out a new JC recipe each week till the happy day in August. I mention it here because a few days after the selected people get the recipe it will be shared on the JC100 page on facebook http://www.facebook.com/JuliaChild?ref=ts so that we mere mortals may also join in the celebration (and perhaps be tempted to purchase a cookbook?).

2012/05/10 - UPDATED HEALTH HAZARD ALERT (E. coli)

Government cutting 100 food-safety inspectors The witless wonders at the helm in Ottawa seem determined to gut what few protections consumers have. This story is old news (a month old anyway) but put into perspective by these two postings on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency site. Food Safety Investigation - E. coli in certain ground beef products (no longer available) and List of Affected Products for Certain Ground Beef Products Produced at Establishments 761 and 530
Might just be time to dig out that old meat grinder and find a local farmer with a cow except of course the idiots in Toronto are trying to put a stop to that too.

oriGIn

The Organization for an International Geographical Indications Network - oriGIn - is a not-for-profit NGO based in Geneva. Established in 2003 in response to the increasing phenomenon of Geographical Indications (GIs) abuse, oriGIn represents today some 350 associations of producers from some 40 countries (including Canada's own Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants).

Pink Slime and Ammonia: Two Main Ingredients in Some Ground Beef

This was last year's story and to no one's surprise it's still happening. Basically a large American producer takes slaughterhouse scraps and "liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as 'pink slime,' which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger". But when it was tested "the tests came back showing that the slime was rampant with harmful bacteria" so they treated it with ammonia! Yummy!
But it gets worse. Seems the ammonia made it taste funny (ya think??) so they started using weaker solutions which don't kill all of the nasties. Then the USDA allows them to call the ammonia a "processing ingredient" and exempted the slime from normal testing. TLC story or Google 'pink slime in meat' for 7 million other stories.
This just in - and I wish it were hard to believe
March 19, 2012 USDA Gives Schools the Option to Buy Beef Without "Pink Slime" only after 7 million pounds of the crap has already been purchased for school lunches this year alone. story
Now I'm sure that you'll all be pleased to know that MacDonalds is no longer using 'pink slime' as of February 2012 but the kicker is that they quit using it because they couldn't get enough to feed the whole world. Don't you just love corporate ethics? ABC story
These fillers are banned in the civilized world but just be careful the next time you pick up a package of ground beef. The CFIA is none too fussy about what it lets in the door and it seems that our supermarkets don't much care either.

UPDATE 2013/11/06: Cargill to label meat after 'pink slime' uproar. Can we say A DAY LATE AND A DOLAR SHORT!!

Bacon Marmalade or how the President missed the boat

The winter Insider's Report had the usual parade of boxed and packaged goodies to tempt the time deprived shopper over the holiday season. Tucked away on the second last page was the gem that made perusing the flyer worth the effort. BACON MARMALADE.
I'd heard about the product from Skillet Street Food in Seattle and tried a recipe by Not Quite Nigella which was good but just needed a little something extra so I was quite pleased to see that the President had taken up the gauntlet.
I found the jar last week, resplendent in its black label, trumpeting 'MADE WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR OF MODENA' over a montage of foodstuffs. I hurried home with my treasure, abandoned the box of groceries at the door, and rushed into the kitchen to find a roll or a cracker.
I spread a generous dollop on a bit of bread and prepared to savour the treat.
I was flabbergasted. All I could taste was ORANGE!!! It wasn't bacon marmalade. It was orange marmalade with a bit of bacon, damn little at that as it's seventh on the ingredient list.
It boggles the mind how the President can give us such fine products as Memories of Lyons (unfortunately discontinued AGAIN) and 4 Peppercorn Steak Spice then turn around and try to palm this off as Bacon Marmalade. Shabby!

Second Opinion:
It seems that my disappointment in this product may not be as common as I would have expected. I shared the product with the participants in this weeks 'What's for Dinner' and several of them found it to be satisfactory (though I did not see anyone accept the proffered bottle).

Update:
I made a batch of jam this week and am quite pleased with the result. It has a distinct taste of onion as the caramelised onions provide most of the sweetness. The recipe is posted here.

The USDA is allowing meat to be “cleaned” with ammonia - and they're hiding it.

The typical fast-food burger is made with slaughterhouse trimmings, fatty cuts of beef typically reserved for pet food and cooking oil. What's more, these burgers contain pieces of hundreds, potentially even thousands, of different cows. This creates an environment where bacteria thrive, so to clean the meat, the USDA allows a company called Beef Products to pipe the raw beef through pipes and expose it to ammonia gas. Never mind that ammonia is a poison or that evidence suggests the process may not be fully effective. The USDA deems it safe enough, and it allows the meat to be sold without any indication that it received the gas treatment.
From Men's Health - 20 Scariest Food Facts

Food Labeling ~ Will they ever get it right?

One of the little things in life that bothers me WAY more than it ought to is food that is consistently given the wrong name. The two which come immediately to mind are yam/sweet potato and fennel/anise.

Sweet Potato Yam
sweet potato The sweet potato has yellow or orange flesh, and its thin skin may either be white, yellow, orange, red or purple. Sometimes this root vegetable will be shaped like a potato, being short and blocky with rounded ends, while other times it will be longer with tapered ends. A big sweet potato weighs 1 pound. Wikipedia yamThere are approximately 200 different varieties of yams with flesh colors varying from white to ivory to yellow to purple while their thick skin comes in white, pink or brownish-black. Their shape is long and cylindrical while their exterior texture is rough and scaly. Wild yams have been recorded to weigh up to 150 pounds. Wikipedia
Factor Sweet Potato Yam
Plant Family Morning glory Yam
Chromosomes 2n=90 2n=20
Flower Monoecious Dioecious
Origin Tropical America (Peru, Ecuador) West Africa, Asia
Edible part Storage root Tuber
Appearance Smooth, with thin skin Rough, scaly
Shape Short, blocky, tapered ends Long, cylindrical, some with "toes"
Mouth feel Moist Dry
Taste Sweet Starchy
Beta carotene Usually high Usually very low
Propagation Transplants/vine cuttings Tuber pieces

There must be an excuse for this one but I can't imagine what it might be! They aren't even close.

Fennel (really Florence Fennel) Anise
fennel Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a perennial herb. It is erect, glaucous green, and grows to heights of up to 2.5 m, with hollow stems. The leaves grow up to 40 cm long; they are finely dissected, with the ultimate segments filiform (threadlike), about 0.5 mm wide. The flowers are produced in terminal compound umbels 5-15 cm wide, each umbel section having 20-50 tiny yellow flowers on short pedicels. The fruit is a dry seed from 4-10 mm long, half as wide or less, and grooved.
Fennels aniseed flavour comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise and star anise, and its taste and aroma are similar to theirs, though usually not as strong.
The Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Azoricum) is a cultivar group with inflated leaf bases which form a bulb-like structure. Their inflated leaf bases are eaten as a vegetable, both raw and cooked. Wikipedia
anise Anise is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 3 ft (0.91 m) tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 0.5-2 in (1.3-5.1 cm) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels. The fruit is an oblong dry schizocarp, 3 - 5 mm long. It is these seed pods that are referred to as "aniseed". Wikipedia

The fennel/anise confusion if not defensible at least has a considerable pedigree. The two plants are of the family Apiaceae, are similar in appearance (at least in the wild), and have been mixed up for hundreds, probably thousands of years in dozens of languages. To add to the confusion when Europeans were introduced to a Chinese dried tree fruit they called it Star Anise because it too contains anethole.

I hate cilantro! Over the top you say? Sprinkle a little Tide on your soup and get back to me.

Cilantro is the darling of the SouthWestern set, integral to SouthEast Asian, Mexican, Portuguese and many other cuisines and the bane of our existence to an astounding number of people (estimates range from 12% to 47%, neither of which I'd believe) including the renowned Julia Child. Put in the very simplest of terms, the inclusion of cilantro ruins any dish!
The problem it seems lies in the nose. Those of us who dislike (or hate) the Fetid Barb of Green have certain receptors enabled or overactive while others are disabled or at least of diminished capacity. The culprits in this little drama are unsaturated aldehydes which are present in cilantro and are also byproducts of soap making (see NYTimes article). It seems that those of us who dislike the weed smell these aldehydes to the exclusion of the other smells which lovers of the herb find so attractive. Of course there is a substantial middle ground of those who can tolerate it in small amounts or in certain dishes.
Bottom line? You won't find cilantro in many recipes here.

Fresh & In Season: Sweet Potatoes

A veritable powerhouse of nutritional goodness, the sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato. And don't call it a yam - it's not even the same species! The sweet potato is a flowering perennial vine in the same family as morning glories, with delicious, starchy, tuberous roots. Read the whole article at Eating Well and see the Wikipedia nutrition comparison chart.

What's in a name??

The never ending battle to eat better and safer is being actively thwarted by some manufacturers. When you're reading the next label you come across remember that Aspartame is now called AminoSweet and High Fructose Corn Syrup is now called Corn Sugar.

The Knife - care and feeding

Knives are one of, if not the most important tool in the chef's kit. A sharp knife is a thing of beauty while a dull one is a threat to all who use it. I've looked at some of the many resources online and assembled some of the ones that make the most sense to me and put them here

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