Budding food policy wonkette. This is a stew photos, news articles, recipes, and short posts by your truly on topics ranging from healthy school lunches to international food aid. Keeping the conversation fresh and players honest.

Buen provecho!!



Plant These To Help Save Bees: 21 Bee-Friendly Plants. Learn more here!

The industry isn’t conducive to keeping women in the kitchen. For all the reasons that it’s hard, this isn’t an industry that’s figured out how to get mothers back into the kitchen. The hours are hard, and there are no benefits, like insurance and 401(k)s. It’s not a long term industry.
Chef Amanda Cohen on women in the restaurant industry. Also related: Yesterday, Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott asks why we ignore lady chefs. (via fritesandfries)
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with them - the people who give you their food give you their heart.
Cesar Chavez (via squaremeal)

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recalled thirty furloughed employees on Tuesday to work on the multi-state salmonella outbreak.

So far, nearly 300 people in 18 states have been sickened with the pathogen, which causes fever, cramps, diarrhea, and in severe cases, even death. About 42% of the people infected have had to be hospitalized, about double the normal rate, and the salmonella strain involved is resistant to many antibiotics, making it more dangerous. 

The USDA identified the source of the outbreak as contaminated raw chicken from Foster Farms and said that the products were distributed in supermarkets in Washington State, Oregon, and California but illnesses have been reported in Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. On the company website, Foster Farms wrote that it does not plan to issue a recall on its poultry products. The company writes that the spread of salmonella can be eliminated by properly handling and cooking of raw poultry.

Mother Jones reports that government-shutdown-mandated furloughs may have hampered the CDC’s response to the outbreak, since the lab and molecular detection work that links far-apart cases was not being done. Individual states can use their own resources to pinpoint the source of contaminated food, but they won’t have access to federal government databases.

Many consumer groups have been lobbying the USDA to change the way salmonella outbreaks are handled so that the government can force recalls, arguing that more dangerous strains of salmonella resistant to antibiotics have emerged in recent years.

Consumers who are buying chicken should simply avoid any brand sold with the following plant numbers: P-6137, P-6137A and P-7632. The number can be found on or underneath the packaging label.


Scientific American: Pretty Soon, We’ll All Be Eating Insects

The Scientific American has published a list of seven insects people across the world might be eating in the not-too-distant future. It’s no secret that there are benefits to eating insects, both for human health and the environment, but global population growth is what many experts say will make it so that we can no longer overlook the (potentially) tasty food that’s crawling and writhing all around us.

Among the seven insects listed are some more obvious ones, like the chapulines grasshoppers found throughout Oaxaca, which some claim are made up of more than 70 per cent protein. There’s also the witchetty grub, a staple of the aboriginal diet in Australia (“When eaten raw, the grubs taste like almonds; when cooked lightly in hot coals, the skin develops the crisp, flavorful texture of roast chicken”) and mopane caterpillars, which contain more than five times the iron of beef and whose harvesting is a multi-million dollar industry in Africa. Nearly all of the insects listed in the roundup contain staggering nutritional values.

Eating insects has been the subject of two talks at MAD, one from Alex Atala at MAD1 and another from the Nordic Food Lab at MAD2. Most recently, back in May, the Nordic Food Lab received additional funding to expand their research into the subject “Deliciousness as an argument for entomophagy.”

For the full list of seven insects, visit the Scientific American. Because the article doesn’t have photos, the above gallery includes images of all seven. 

News Roundup! Thursday October 3, 2013

  • The latest United Nations report on food security estimates that 842 million people—that’s twelve percent of the world’s population—are suffering chronic hunger (Reuters).
  • This government shutdown has the potential to be devastating, especially in regards to our food system. Programs that have been closed until further notice include; nutrition programs that help low-income mothers with new children buy healthy food, programs monitoring of air pollution and pesticide use, food safety checks for certain products, clinical research programs, health hotlines, the CDC’s flu program. The USDA warns that “a lengthy hiatus would affect the safety of human life and have serious adverse effects on the industry, the consumer and the Agency” (CivilEats and Modern Farmer).
  • Some good news for our food system (yes, finally!) and California cities and counties eager to encourage community gardens and small-scale farms! Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a piece of legislation that will allow municipalities to lower the assessed value—and property taxes—on plots of three acres or less if owners pledge to dedicate them to growing food for at least five years. A breakdown of the bill can be found here (LATimes).


Harvard EdX Course: Science and Cooking

If you’ve ever wanted to take a class at Harvard, here’s your chance! Harvard is offering an online EdX version of its popular course "SPU27x: Science and Cooking - From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Physics." Class starts October 8th and registration for the course is FREE.

During each week of the course, Ferran Adrià and other top chefs will reveal the secrets of some of their most famous culinary creations—often right in their own restaurants. Alongside this cooking mastery, the Harvard instructors will explain the science behind the recipe. Other guest instructors include David Chang, Wylie Dufresne, Dave Arnold, and Harold McGee.

Register for “Science and Cooking” at EdX

Signal boost!

Building on the existing network of small farmers is far preferable to throwing them off the land in favor of large-scale mechanized farming.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, in a pretty epic interview with Modern Farmer, discusses the greatest challenges to our food systems (rapid population growth and unhealthy eating choices in countries where food is readily available), how sustainable agriculture can help reverse climate change, and the importance of investing in smallholders and rural agriculture. Regarding efforts on the latter, Clinton says there have been “extraordinarily outsized returns — not only for the individual farmers, but also for their national economies.”

Clinton goes into detail explaining how the foundations he’s involved in have helped smallholders by filling gaps in the supply chain and giving the farmers access to good, fairly priced seeds and fertilizer. He’s also pushing initiatives to empower female farmers (“women’s participation is a proven way to help an economy thrive”), and much more. It’s a vital read.

(via themadfeed)

Report: “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Labels Leads to Food Waste in America”

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about how we’re wasting food by looking at the “best by” or “sell by” dates on a carton of milk.

Well, it’s all true…but it’s not necessarily your fault. 

A report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Harvard Food Law and Policy clinic has found that there are inconsistencies across the nation and that the industry is really a “wild west” when it comes to how dates are set, whether or not these dates are found on the packaging, and what these dates actually mean.

  • In Florida, all milk and milk products must be labeled with their shelf-life date…but that date is never defined.
  • In California, milk is required to have a date that the processor decides is one that “insures quality.” When that product expires, the product is normally removed from the shelf…but sale after that date is not restricted.
  • In Montana, milk must have a “sell by” date  within 12 days of pasteurization, while Pennsylvania requires it within 17 days.
  • In New Hampshire, a “sell by date” is required for cream but not milk.
  • New York, Texas, and Wisconsin, among many other states, have no requirements for date labels on milk or dairy.

And that these inconsistencies are influencing consumer behaviors.

  • Although most date labels are intended as indicators of freshness and quality, many consumers mistakenly believe that they are indicators of safety. In a 2007 survey, 23% of survey respondents had the misconception that “sell by” date identifies the last day on which a product can be consumed, rather than an inventory-control date that simply recommends how long a product should be displayed on the shelf vis-a-vis newer products.
  • A separate survey found that 91% of consumers reported that at least occasionally they had discarded food past its “sell by” date out of concern for the product’s safety despite there being many studies showing that there is no direct correlation between food safety and date labels. 
  • Consumers do not understand the relationship of time and temperature to safety; many people do not realize that the amount of time food spends in the danger zone—40 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit—is the main criterion they should use to evaluate food safety, rather than total storage times.

In other words, the system is a mess.

The report also lists several intriguing suggestions for fixing this problem:

  1. "Sell by dates"—dates which should be used internally by retailers to indicate peak freshness—should be made invisible for consumers.
  2. Dates intended for consumer use should use clear language, be located on the same place on packaging, and should be based on standardized “best practices.”
  3. "Freeze by" dates would be helpful in promoting the benefits of freezing foods before they go bad.
  4. Safety information such as time-temperature indicators and QR codes to track food would allow consumers to scan for more information.
We can see the Scarecrow’s farm for ourselves, but we have to trust Chipotle’s assertions that its suppliers meet its standards. The Scarecrow uses only ingredients that conform to his values, but when Chipotle runs out of sustainable beef, a decidedly less happy cow could end up marinated and grilled and nestled beside our cilantro-lime rice. And Sirota’s criticism stands: “The Scarecrow” is powerful in part because it elides Chipotle’s real-life meat sourcing with the aesthetics of a vegetable harvest.


Above, the full video of chef Roy Choi’s presentation at MAD3. In it, Choi addresses the poverty, crime, and hunger plaguing parts of Los Angeles.

Choi talks about the genesis of his now-famous Kogi BBQ truck, which was the chef’s effort to bring accessible, tasty food to areas with more liquor stores than grocery shops. “Why do I say all these things at a food conference?” asks Choi. “We’re not the richest people on the planet, but when a chef talks, people listen.” He calls on chefs to use their platforms to help out those their restaurants may not normally reach: ”Why don’t chefs start opening food carts? Why don’t chefs work with their investors so that when they open a restaurant, they do something for the hood?”

Watch above for the full story, and stay tuned for an interview with Choi to post on the MADFeed tomorrow. 

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