Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

November 05, 2011

Breweries and Brew Pubs of the Mountain West

An interactive map, part of a larger one covering the whole country. Note the concentration in Colorado. Beer-buying has certainly become more interesting over the past decade or two.

(Via Borepatch.)

October 30, 2011

Michael Pollan's New Food Rules

Michael Pollan's new food rules, from the upcoming of the book of the same name.

I like #7, "Enjoy Drinks That Have Been Caffeinated by Nature, Not Food Science"

This also reminds me of the advice that I gave to students in magazine-writing class: you can always sell a story built around a list.

October 13, 2011

Cars Eat More Corn than do Animals

Corn production for ethanol has surpassed production for livestock feed and other food and non-food uses.

All along Interstate 90 in eastern North Dakota, the billboards tell you that burning ethanol is the patriotic thing to do. Maybe Tharaldson Ethanol, just down the road, paid for them.

September 30, 2011

Big Ag Strikes Back

It's not enough that we eat their products, but we are supposed to love them too.

Worried, apparently, by bloggers, book authors, and documentary-film makers, "Big Ag" organizations like the National Milk Producers Federation ("Got Milk?") and the American Egg Board, have formed the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance in "a bid to 'reshape the dialogue' about the American food supply." 

Conspicuously absent: organic farmers.
The battle is over more than labels. Also at stake is the $25 billion annual budget for discretionary spending by the Agriculture Department, and crop subsidies worth even more. Bob Stallman, chairman of the Alliance, is also president of the American Farm Bureau, the farmers’ main lobbying group in Washington. 
In his column in the current issue of Colorado Central magazine—not yet available online—Colorado food writer Hal Walter suggests, "Eating may be more effective than voting."

"Start by voting with your fork," he continues. "Every dollar you don't spend with big food is one dollar that doesn't feed the beast, and instead nutures both your community and yourself."

I have been picking up copies of his free publication about independent, mostly organic farmers and ranchers in Colorado's Arkansas Valley this summer.

Call The Farm Beet, it is also available from his web site.

September 24, 2011

No, You Can't Eat That, Says the Judge

Wisconsin judge says that there is no "right to eat" food that you yourself produce.

According to Wisconsin Judge Patrick J. Fiedler, you do not have a fundamental right to consume the food you grow or own or raise. The Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund, the pioneers in defending food sovereignty and freedom, recently argued before Judge Fiedler that you and I have a constitutional right to consume the foods of our choice. Judge Fiedler saw no merit to the argument and ruled against the FTCLDF. When they asked him to clarify his statement, these were his words:

“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow;”
“no, Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice…”
 Read the rest.

September 20, 2011

What Has the 'Food Movement' Accomplished?

Michael Pollan considers the gap between image (Michele Obama's organic garden—do the Obamas ever eat from it? No one says.) and actual agricultural policy.

His article, "How Change is Going to Come in the Food Industry," is part of a special issue in The Nation.
To date, however, the food movement can claim more success in changing popular consciousness than in shifting, in any fundamental way, the political and economic forces shaping the food system or, for that matter, in changing the “standard American diet”—which has only gotten worse since the 1970s. Recently there have been some political accomplishments: food movement activists played a role in shaping the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, both passed in the last Congress, and the last couple of farm bills have thrown some significant crumbs in the direction of sustainable agriculture and healthy food. But the food movement cannot yet point to legislative achievements on the order of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Administration. Its greatest victories have come in the media, which could scarcely be friendlier to it, and in the food marketplace, rather than in the halls of Congress, where the power of agribusiness has scarcely been disturbed.
True enough, but you don't suppose that the marketplace might actually lead Congress, do you? 
Here is the table of contents for the entire food-related issue.

August 17, 2011

Greeley Schools Build a Better Burrito

The New York Times reports on how public schools in Greeley are going to back to making their own cafeteria food for better nutrition:
Consider the bean burrito: last year, in arriving from the factory wrapped in cellophane, each one had more than 35 ingredients, including things like potassium citrate and zinc oxide. This year: 12, including real cheddar cheese. Italian salad dressing went from 19 ingredients to 9, with sodium reduced by almost three-fourths and sugar — the fourth ingredient in the factory blend — eliminated entirely. . . . .

“The biggest myth is that it costs more money,” said Kate Adamick, a food consultant based in New York and co-founder of Cook for America. She said federal reimbursement rules could actually give poorer school systems some advantages in shifting back to scratch, especially for meat, which many districts buy with deep discounts. Cooking the meat themselves, rather than paying a processor, can drastically reduce total costs, she said.
They promise the kiddies their familiar bright yellow mac-and-cheese, but colored with tumeric instead of some industrial chemical.

August 05, 2011

Why I Will Support National Lemonade Freedom Day

In June 1989 I was driving hard on US 20 across the Nebraska panhandle, on my way to do an interview at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.

On the edge of some tiny town—Rushville?—I saw a little boy and girl sitting behind a table, selling lemonade. They had no customers.

I should have stopped. A photo of their stand on that sunny June day would have gone into my stock photo file. And I would have bought lemonade. I could probably have taken their picture in Rushville, Neb., in 1989 without being branded a pedophile/kidnapper.

But I did not. I was in a hurry. And later I kicked myself for that decision, all the way to Valentine, Neb., and subsequently.

So I made a vow, which I have mostly kept in the subsequent 22 years. If at all possible, when I pass some kids selling lemonade, I stop and buy a cup. (Even if it's watery, crappy lemonade made from the cheapest frozen mix full of high-fructose corn syrup. A little won't kill me.)

The most recent time was last month in Colorado Springs. Two boys raising money. One wanted an iPod; the other had no specific goal.

Yet some local-government idiots want to ban this little exercise in capitalism.  That is why, come Saturday, August 20, you should celebrate National Lemonade Freedom Day.

If you have kids who can set up a lemonade stand, help them do it. And if you are out and about and see a lemonade stand, buy a cup or two.

Selling lemonade is not a crime.

July 22, 2011

Here's Your Paleo Diet

"Cut bear meat into pieces. Add salt and pepper. Roast meat in oven adding a little lard to pan."

From the Eskimo Cook Book, written by school children in 1952. Recipes for seasonal wild plants are included too.

"Inside of barbirch there is something that is yellowish. That is called the meat of willows. They are very good to eat. People eat it with sugar and seal oil."

July 20, 2011

Soft-Drink Industry Fights Anti-Obesity Programs.

The carbonated water-and-high fructose corn syrup industry is trying to clog the legal process as politicians move against them.
[American Beverage Association] spokesman Chris Gindlesperger said his group made the same request as the New York Times, but that the newspaper received more information than the ABA.

"Public health departments are going out and aggressively misrepresenting our products in advertising and using taxpayer money to do that," Gindlesperger said. . . . .

At various times, states and localities have considered taxing sugary beverages to cover obesity-related health costs. In 2009 and 2010, as such proposals became more frequent, the ABA, Coke and Pepsi collectively spent $60 million on lobbying, up from $8 million in 2007 and 2008, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics'
Yeah, well, first they came for the smokers, but they died or quit. Soft-drink makers are being cast as the next deserving victims.

Cooking King Henry and Other Vegetables

Not really a Rockies story, but an interesting New York Times piece on forgotten vegetables.
The mystery of Good King Henry made me wonder about other Colonial-era vegetables that have all but disappeared from our gardens and dinner plates. Gardeners today will routinely raise a dozen varieties of tomato, a plant utterly foreign to early Americans. So why do we neglect common Colonial food plants like burnet, smallage, skirrets, scorzonera, gooseberry and purslane? And how would they taste to us now? 
When it comes to the Chenopodium genus, we do eat some of the lamb's-quarter that pops up in the garden—and anything else that comes under the category of wild greens, quelites, or whatever you want to call them.

July 01, 2011

On Being Green but not Greener-than-Thou

Cat Chapin-Bishop admits that she is a little peeved with people who parade their green credentials, even as she and her family attempt to live a more low-impact life:
We’ve all met those types, haven’t we?  I call them the Buddhist earth-mother-with-a-trust-fund people.  If you’ve learned how to grow your own tomatoes, they’ve learned how to grow all-organic heritage tomatoes from an endangered variety that has twice the vitamin C of other tomatoes, and how to can enough of them to last them through the apocalypse.

And they do it all while wearing organic cotton yoga pants, grinding their own baby food, and never watching television or using deodorant–or needing to.  (That type of woman’s armpits never smell.  Except, possibly, very faintly of patchouli.)

I admit to being seriously intimidated by these mountains of serene competency.  I run into them all the time at farmers’ markets and at our local CSA–which is one of the reasons I like farm stands so much.  (They tend to be run by plump women in polyester, wearing out-of-fashion eyeglasses.  I love those women; they are Of My People. They remind me of me.
Read the whole thing here.

June 17, 2011

Image versus Reality in the Way We Eat

A British musing on the twin trends of faster, quicker food and from-scratch foodie-ism, from Marina O'Loughlin in The Independent.
"The way we eat is increasingly becoming a status symbol for the affluent and a deadly poison for those who allow food no cultural significance or value" [Trish Deseine, food writer and goddess of chocolate].
Image versus reality.

May 09, 2011

Video Trailer for a Falconer's Writing

In November 2009 I reviewed Rebecca O'Connor's book Lift, saying,
That dialectic--woman as prey and predator--spirals through Lift, a book that is intensely erotic in the original sense, being about passion, desire, and union with the Beloved, even when the beloved is a bird.
Rise: A Collection of Writings is her new collection of short pieces and poetry, and she has made a "video trailer" for it. Rise will be available as an ebook in July.

April 25, 2011

Food, the Relationship-Killer

It's like the 19th-century temperance slogan: "Lips that touch wine shall never touch mine."

Only now it's all about food.

And lips that touch (or do not touch) meat, gluten, soy cheese, artisanal cheese, milk and meat together shall or shall not ever touch or ever touch again.

“There’s this feeling that if we eat the same thing then we are the same thing, and if we don’t, we’re no longer unified,” Dr. Zerbe said. She and Dr. Jaffe said sharing food is an important ritual that enhances relationships. They advise interdietary couples to find meals they can both enjoy. “Or at least a side dish,” Dr. Zerbe said. 
"Interdietary" — the gastronomic equivalent of "mixed marriage."

April 23, 2011

Blog Stew with Slow-Food Rules

• Michael Pollan, with a little help from his friends, offers three new food rules.

 • Once again, the question "Is Sugar Toxic?" is answered in the affirmative by anti-carb crusader Gary Taubes.

•  Future Pundit posts on sunspot cycles—the real information is in the comments section.

April 22, 2011

In Which I Learn About Fennel

M. is watching the cooking show Simply Ming while making dinner herself. From my study, I hear Chef Ming Tsai saying something about fennel.

Call me provincial ("You're provincial, Chas") but I had never eaten fennel until yesterday. I grew up with lots of wild game (elk, venison, pheasant, etc.) and fresh garden vegetables, but the list of the latter was limited to what grew well in the harsh climate and alkaline soils where we lived. (Swiss chard, anyone? Rhubarb pie by the ton?)

I never ate an artichoke until my undergraduate years—nor saw anyone eat a raw pear with knife and fork—when I had the good luck to fall in with some students who would today be described as "foodies."  Even they never served fennel at their student-bohemian feasts (the first time I ever really enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner).

But the TV chefs—Lidia Bastianich is another one—talk about it so much that I started to think that the National Fennel Council was slipping them some cash.

(As for Chef Lidia, when she talks about fennel, I am reminded that she grew up next to Friuli, and that puts me in mind of Carlo Ginzburg's book The Night Battles, in which the benandati, 16th and 17th-century folk magicians who battled "the witches" in the dream state, were themselves told by the Inquisition that they were "the witches" and subjected to the usual penalties. Why this association? Because their weapons were fennel stalks, a weird little detail that perhaps make sense in the logic of the dream.)

So I made some noises about being deprived of the fennel experience and was rewarded with a dish of white beans, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and fennel.

OK, so it's like celery. It adds crunch and a mild anise-type taste.

April 13, 2011

Rebutting 'the Paleolithic diet'

Atlantic Monthly blogger Megan McArdle questions the premise of the "Paleolithic diet": namely, "Are Grains Making Us Fat"?
I hear a lot about Taubes' theory from people pushing the notion that "we're evolved to eat meat and fruit, not processed grains".  I mean, true as far as it goes--but it doesn't go very far.  A ribeye and an arugula salad with olive oil and vinegar is almost as far from what our paleolithic ancestors ate as pasta primavera and an angel-food cake.  The meat our ancestors ate in the wild was not mostly fat-rich steak—game animals don't have that much body fat, and their muscles are a lot less tender.  We've selectively bred our domesticated animals for considerably more succulence than our ancestors enjoyed.  In the rich world, we've also stopped eating the "gamier", more vitamin-rich organs.  In fact, almost every fruit or vegetable you enjoy eating has been bred to be larger, higher-calorie, and full of less in the way of fibers and natural pesticides than what our pre-agricultural ancestors ate.

Check out her informational graphic about American diets a hundred years ago versus now. Not that much has changed, so ask yourself, what did change?

April 01, 2011

'Know the Condition and Ready State of the Coffee!'

For my coffee-addict backcountry pals: Canadian soldiers demonstrate field-expedient coffee-making in Afghanistan (language warning).

Evidently, se necesita una poca de gracia, as well as one man watching for insurgent activity. Hat tip: Say Uncle.